The Baltimore County school system will require high school athletes to provide proof of a full COVID-19 vaccination or face weekly testing to participate in the winter and spring sports seasons.
Students have until Nov. 24 to provide the school system with proof of vaccination, officials announced Wednesday. Students who are unwilling to get inoculated as well as those who have a documented medical or religious reason why they cannot be vaccinated must participate in mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing.
Testing will be conducted during the school day or practice time at no cost to the student-athlete. The PCR test involves a brief self-swab inside the tip of the nose, officials said in a news release.
Students who fail to get vaccinated or participate in the weekly COVID testing process will lose their eligibility to participate in winter or spring sports until the requirements are met, officials said.
A grassroots group of parents who have pressed for schools to reopen throughout the pandemic already are mounting opposition to the vaccine policy. Ahead of the school system’s announcement, leaders of the Baltimore County Parent and Student Coalition circulated a message Tuesday to members stating that a policy was imminent, school system staff had told them.
“Well, they are coming after the student athletes again,” the email states.
The message questions what data was being used to support the school system’s decision and whether any school outbreaks were attributed to the fall sports season. Coalition leaders asks members to email Superintendent Darryl Williams, the board of education and several other administrators.
Baltimore County’s vaccine mandate for high school students follows a similar one in Baltimore City, where students were informed in September ahead of the winter and spring sports seasons. And Howard County public schools announced Monday a plan requiring all high school student-athletes to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or undergo weekly testing in order to participate in school-sponsored winter athletics.
Baltimore Sun Media reporter Allana Haynes contributed to this article.