Students attending D.C. schools will have more time to get their COVID-19 and other vaccinations this year.
Students will have until they return to school after winter break on Jan. 3 to get their COVID-19 shot, according to an announcement from D.C.’s Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn.
Originally, D.C. was going to require that students between 12 to 15 years old who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 start their primary vaccine series by Sept. 16. Unvaccinated students who are 16 and 17 years old were to have started their primary vaccine series by the start of the school year, which is Monday.
The D.C. Council added the COVID-19 vaccine to its list of required vaccinations to attend school in the city in 2021. It applies to students at traditional public and charter schools, and private, parochial and independent schools.
For routine vaccinations, such as measles, mumps and polio, students in pre-K through fifth grade will receive a letter of noncompliance on Sept. 7, with exclusion from school on Oct, 11, if they have not received their shots. Youths in 6th through 12th grade have until Oct. 3 before a letter is sent and until Nov. 4 before they are not allowed in school. Previously, D.C. officials said students had 20 days from the start of school to get all their shots.
The change in policy comes after a Thursday report from the Daily Signal said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser did not plan to offer virtual classes for unvaccinated students who are 12 and older.
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“We’re not offering remote learning for children, and families will need to comply with what is necessary to come to school,” Ms. Bowser said.
More than 40% of the District’s Black students ages 12 and up aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19, according to D.C. data.
D.C. officials said that written notices and calls will be made to homes of students who miss extended amounts of time because they’re unvaccinated against COVID-19, as well as the possibility of “making referrals to [Child and Family Services Agency], the Child Support Services Division, and the Office of the Attorney General, for truancy or educational neglect.”