A Chattanooga boys preparatory school emailed students that they could skip a final exam and go maskless if they got the COVID-19 vaccine. Parents reportedly didn’t receive the email about the vaccination incentive, which also required that 500 students receive the vaccine. This information also didn’t make it to the school’s press release concerning the vaccine.
Publicly, McCallie School shared that it would be mandating the COVID-19 vaccine come fall. In their official announcement, McCallie School shared that they would mandate the COVID-19 vaccine. Nowhere did they mention that vaccinated students would receive a special exemption from the final exam of their choice and school mask mandates.
McCallie Head of School Lee Burns asserted that the mandate was a “logical, socially responsible extension” of the school’s student health policy.
“The CDC, the FDA, the Hamilton County Health Department, the National Association of Independent Schools, physicians with whom we’ve consulted, and many other health and educational professionals – all of them strongly recommend vaccinations,” said Burns.
McCallie noted that they would allow vaccine exemptions for medical, religious, moral, or ethical reasons.
Technically, Tennessee law allows certain minors to receive vaccinations without parental knowledge or consent. According to the “mature minor” doctrine and the “Rule of Sevens,” there exists a rebuttable presumption that minors between the ages of 7 and 14 have no capacity to make those health-related decisions. Meaning: health care providers could potentially vaccinate minors aged 7 to 14 without parental knowledge or consent, in the absence of a law expressly prohibiting it.
Whereas, no rebuttable presumption of capacity exists for minors aged 14 to 17 – those minors could get the vaccine without parental consent, unless the physician believes the minor lacks the maturity to make the decision independently.
That legal doctrine arose out of a 1987 court case, Cardwell v. Bechtol, in which a minor sought medical treatment on her own for back problems. Certain treatments are prohibited under the mature minor doctrine, such as juvenile drug abuse treatment, emergency situations, STD treatments, and prenatal care.
The Tennessee Star attempted to contact McCallie School spokespersons about the vaccination incentive multiple times. The school didn’t respond by press time.
– – –