Arlington, Danville Schools to Require COVID-19 Tests for Unvaccinated High School Athletes

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More Virginia schools are instituting COVID-19 vaccination requirements for high school student athletes. On Thursday, the Arlington County Public Schools Superintendent Francisco Durán announced the policy for his district in a Thursday presentation to the school board.

He included a message for the public. “We do not want to quarantine a class. We do not want to close a school, and we will have to do that only if there are outbreaks that occur. So please, please work with us,” he said.

“Another measure we’re taking to make sure we continue to ensure the health and safety of our students: I noted recently in my weekly updates(that are now sent on Wednesdays) that we are exploring mandating vaccinations for high school athletes. I want to share tonight that we are, effective November 8 which is the start of the winter sports season, going to require that all high school athletes that participate in [Virginia High School Leage (VHSL)] sports be fully vaccinated,” he said.

Durán said the policy also applies to 8th graders who participate in VHSL sports, and noted that in other districts, COVID-19 spread during sports activities was forcing students to quarantine and miss classes. Students can receive exemptions, but will be tested for COVID-19 weekly. Neighboring Fairfax and Loudoun County school districts have already announced similar policies. But districts outside Northern Virginia are also moving forward with the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for high school athletes.

The Danville Public School Board approved twice-a-week COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated athletes and students in extracurricular activities where social distancing is not possible. On September 2, Superintendent Angela Hairston told the school board that sports are a “hot-spot,” and pitched the vaccinations as a way to keep children in person, according to The Danville Register and Bee. Some football games have already been canceled. The announcement coincided with a one-day school closure combined with the holiday weekend for deep cleaning, in response to advice from the local health district.

“[The Delta variant] is attacking our young folks,” Hairston said.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “COVID Testing” by Chris Yarzab CC BY 2.0.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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