The Board of Education voted unanimously on September 9 to require proof of vaccination for staff and for student athletes who plan on participating in winter and spring sports. The school district will no longer accept staff members’ previous option of taking weekly COVID-19 tests instead of providing evidence of vaccination.
Staff must provide MCPS with proof of their first valid vaccination dose by September 30 and confirmation of the second dose no later than October 29. Winter and spring athletes will be required to submit proof of full vaccination starting November 15 — the start of the winter sports season. While the school district strongly encourages vaccinations for fall athletes, officials are not requiring the doses for these students.
Softball player Addison Singer, a junior, agrees with MCPS’s decision to require vaccines due to how close students are to each other during softball and other athletic activities, she said.
“People in sports make a lot of contact during practices and games,” she said. “It’s hard to stay six feet apart.”
For wrestler Conrad Randall, another junior, one athlete who hasn’t gotten vaccinated can cause problems for an entire team.
“Unvaccinated students should not be allowed to participate in close contact sports like wrestling,” Randall said. “The consequences of transmitting the virus is a major problem because if one person gets it, everyone else could potentially have it, which is inconvenient especially if there is an upcoming match.”
Roughly 87% of eligible Montgomery County residents were already fully vaccinated prior to the updated requirement. However, with the Delta variant’s surge in the county, some teachers are especially concerned that not all of their co-workers may have received vaccinations. One of these educators is engineering teacher and cross country and track coach Stephen Hays, who said he believes that the community won’t be able to move past the dangers of the Delta variation without complete vaccination of all who are eligible.
“Those who are vaccinated are less likely to get as sick as those who aren’t,” Hays said. “This is one of those viruses that are going to continue impacting our life if everyone doesn’t do something about it.”