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Seattle Public Schools Won’t Allow Unvaccinated Kids to Return to Class After Winter Break

People logo People 1/1/2020 Claudia Harmata
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Seattle Public Schools are giving their students until Jan. 8 to get up to date with their vaccines or they will not be allowed to return to class.

On Dec. 20, the city school system announced that in order to be in compliance with Washington state law, “student records must reflect updated immunization status by January 8, 2020, or students cannot attend school until the required information is provided to the school nurse.”

Earlier this year, the Washington State Legislature got rid of “personal and/or philosophical exemption” for the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine that is required for school attendance.

Tim Robinson, a spokesperson for Seattle Public Schools, told CNN affiliate KOMO that “if a student comes to school on the 8th and their records aren’t up to date, they’ll just be held aside. Their parents or guardian will be contacted.”

Any missed days over the lack of vaccine records will be counted as an unexcused absence, the school district said. However, they added that once immunization compliance was established and the student was able to return to school, those absences could be changed to excused.

RELATED: Measles Outbreak in Anti-Vaccine Hotspot in Washington State Confirmed by Health Officials

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Robinson said that there are about 2,000 students that currently need updated immunization records to return to class.

The school system reportedly sent out an email and postal letter to parents notifying them about the new rule, and are hosting free immunization clinics throughout the break to help students and their families get in compliance.

“We are doing everything we can here as a sprint to the finish line to get as many students up to date as possible,” Robinson told CNN affiliate KCPQ .“We don’t want anybody missing out on any educational time.”

RELATED: Washington Governor Declares State of Emergency for Measles Outbreak Due to Vaccine Hesitancy

The new bill that encouraged this initiative from the Seattle Public Schools became state law in July, and was a result of a widespread measles outbreak in the state in January that prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a state of emergency.

Public health officials confirmed that a majority of cases in the outbreak were people who were not immunized.

“All we want is for all people in our schools to be able to come in to school and not worry about getting a disease that is a vaccine preventable disease,” Sami Hoag, Seattle Schools student health services manager, said in a video explaining the new initiative.

“The higher the number of vaccinated individuals in a group, the greater the protection is for everybody,” she added.

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