Fredericksburg Public Schools will require that all student–athletes be vaccinated for COVID-19 by Nov. 8.
Deputy Superintendent Matthew Eberhardt announced the school division’s decision at the School Board meeting Monday.
“The largest numbers of quarantines have come from exposure to a positive COVID-19 case involved with sports,” Eberhardt said. “Also, the largest numbers of linked positive cases have originated with athletics. We believe, understanding the impact we’ve had with sports, that to break the cycle we need children to be vaccinated.”
Student–athletes can request religious or medical exemptions to the vaccine requirement and instead be tested weekly for COVID-19, Eberhardt said.
“Students who refuse will not be allowed to participate in sports,” he said. “This will not affect fall sports, but it will affect winter and spring sports.”
Currently, the Virginia High School League is not recommending vaccine requirements for student athletes, but other Virginia school divisions—including Fairfax and Loudoun—have implemented them, Eberhardt said.
Walker–Grant Middle School recently had to revert to a virtual mode of instruction following a large COVID-19 outbreak.
Eberhardt said that just over half of eligible 16- and 17-year-olds in the school division are fully vaccinated. Only 35 percent of children aged 12 to 15 have been vaccinated.
Eighty students received vaccines at clinics held at James Monroe High School and Walker-Grant last week.
Eberhardt also said Monday that the school division is looking into providing in-school COVID-19 testing through a statewide program. Parents who want their students to be tested for the virus on a regular basis would be able to request it.