- New York City Public Schools announced on Thursday that it will require COVID-19 vaccinations for students participating in sports considered high-risk for potential virus transmission, including but not limited to popular extracurriculars like football, volleyball, and wrestling.
- Last week, California's Culver City Unified School District became one of the first to mandate vaccination for all eligible students after "determining the legal and practical implications of mandating the COVID vaccine," Assistant Superintendent Robert Quinn said during an August board meeting. "We are hearing that the vaccine for younger students may be approved as early as next month, so that’s good news," he added.
- In Hoboken, New Jersey, the district's reopening plan requires students over age 12 to be vaccinated or face weekly testing. Many districts began mandating vaccination for school staff prior to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19, which was previously authorized for emergency use, and growing momentum for student mandates comes alongside a boost to those efforts following that approval.
“While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated," said acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock in a press release announcing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine's approval.
For the American public at large and public school parents specifically, preference for vaccine mandates has been split sharply among political lines, according to a poll by The Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, with a minority of Republicans and a majority of Democrats expressing support. In the same poll, 42% of parents favored vaccine requirements for students, compared to nearly 60% of non-parent adults.
A separate national survey conducted by RAND Corporation and commissioned by The Rockefeller Foundation last month found parents' own vaccination status was "highly predictive" of whether they planned to vaccinate their children.
“Our research has found that most parents want to send their children to school in-person, and they want a suite of safety measures at school — not just one practice — to feel comfortable doing so,” said Heather Schwartz, a senior policy researcher at RAND.
The same survey also found a majority of parents do not feel fully informed about their district's safety precautions and policies.
Previously, superintendents told K-12 Dive they would refrain from requiring COVID-19 vaccines until given the green light from state officials.
According to the National School Boards Association, "state law generally dictates what vaccines students must have for attending school in-person." All 50 states and Washington, D.C., have some form of school vaccination requirements with varying exemptions. While all allow medical exemptions, 44 states allow religious exemptions, and 15 allow exemptions for philosophical reasons.