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DC delays enforcement of 'insane' school vaccine mandate for students 12 and over

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 8/26/2022 Jeremiah Poff
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser testifies before a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on the District of Columbia statehood bill, Monday, March 22, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Carlos Barria/Pool via AP) © Carlos Barria/AP Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser testifies before a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on the District of Columbia statehood bill, Monday, March 22, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Carlos Barria/Pool via AP)

City officials in Washington, D.C., announced Friday that a student COVID-19 vaccine mandate set to be enforced 20 days after school started would instead be delayed until January.

In a letter to district public school leaders, the deputy mayor for education, Paul Kihn, announced that the district would not be enforcing a citywide vaccine mandate for students 12 and over until Jan. 3. The mandate applies to students of all schools, public or private.

DC SCHOOLS MANDATE VACCINE DOSES AS OTHER DISTRICTS MOVE PAST COVID RESTRICTIONS

"We hope that the January 3, 2023 date for first exclusions of non-compliant students will give schools ... additional time to prepare and for students to get their COVID-19 vaccinations," Kihn wrote in the letter.

In addition to delaying the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, Kihn also delayed enforcement of "routine" vaccine requirements until Oct. 11 for elementary school students and until Nov. 4 for middle and high school students.

Even without the immediate enforcement of the vaccine mandate, the district's schools still maintain some of the strictest COVID-19 policies in the nation. All students are required to submit proof of a negative test before the first day of school on Aug. 29.

Other school districts that have sought to implement student vaccine mandates either canceled their mandates entirely or delayed their implementation until at least the next school year, as was the case in California, which had announced a statewide mandate.

The delayed enforcement comes the day after Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) confirmed at a press conference that the district's vaccine mandate would have prevented unvaccinated students from attending school after a 20-day grace period.

The city's health officials and pediatric healthcare system have made significant efforts to boost vaccination rates among students.

Children's National, the city's largest pediatric healthcare system, has been holding a series of "DOSE'chella 'No Shots, No School' Block Part[ies]" held every Saturday in August and September to boost vaccination rates.

A spokesperson for Children's National did not respond to a request from the Washington Examiner about whether the healthcare system had seen an increase in school-aged students getting vaccinated.

The mandate's delay came the same day a Washington superior court judge struck down a COVID-19 vaccine mandate Bowser had enacted for employees of the city government.

In a statement to the Washington Examiner, Ian Prior, the executive director of Fight for Schools and a senior adviser at America First Legal, noted the mayor's Friday defeat in court and called on Bowser to eliminate the student mandate entirely, which he said was an "insane and unjustifiable policy."

"Mayor Bowser just suffered a humiliating defeat in court over her vaccine mandate for government workers and she realizes the lawlessness of her actions," Prior said. "She should take the loss and completely scrap this mandate immediately.”

According to the city's own data, over 40% of the city's black students in the mandated age group are currently unvaccinated and would have been forced to miss school, a fact that Prior noted.

"Given that 47% of black students aged 16-17 and 42% of black children aged 12-15 are currently unvaccinated, this will have the draconian impact of denying those students the opportunity to have any education unless their parents remove their children from the public school systems and either send them to private school or home school them," Prior said.

But under the provisions of the mandate, even private schools were required to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for students 12 and over. In a statement this summer, the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.'s Catholic Schools Office announced it would be implementing a vaccine mandate consistent with the city's requirements.

“The District of Columbia has informed schools that its COVID-19 vaccination mandate applies to all students, both public and private," the archdiocese said at the time. "The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington intends to follow the new legal requirements and will honor religious or conscience-based exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine if claimed by parents, as well as properly substantiated medical exemptions, in accordance with the law.”

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The archdiocese did not respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner on Friday seeking an update on the mandate's implementation in Catholic schools.

 

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Tags: Muriel Bowser, Washington D.C., Vaccination, Public Schools, Schools

Original Author: Jeremiah Poff

Original Location: DC delays enforcement of 'insane' school vaccine mandate for students 12 and over

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