FCPS announces vaccine mandate for winter, spring sports

Lara Hans, Staff Writer

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all winter and spring sports on Aug. 30. The mandate will go into effect starting Nov. 8, and will be enforced for all Virginia High School League (VHSL) sports for the 2021-22 school year. 

“The majority of pauses to instruction for our high school students come as a result of exposure during athletic activities, which the Virginia Department of Education classifies as a high-risk activity,” FCPS Superintendent Scott Braband said in a letter addressing the community.

Student-athletes are at high risk for transmitting COVID-19 because they have to travel to events off-campus for practices and/or games, and they also interact with athletes from different schools. 

The vaccine mandate applies to other activities that require a physical in order to participate, such as the dance team and the step team. Students that are participating in a winter or spring physical activity without a vaccination will need to submit weekly negative COVID-19 tests. 

Fairfax County was the first school district in the region to make vaccines obligatory for student-athletes, but Loudoun County Public Schools quickly followed their example. 

In a survey conducted by the Hawk Talk, 87.3% of Madison students supported the vaccine mandate. 

“The vaccine mandate is not for me, it’s for the others around me,” Maxwell Chan (’22) said. “My mom is at high risk and I cannot go out and risk her life for my own enjoyment. Whether it is mandatory or not, if I’m playing sports I was going to get the vaccine.” 

On the other side of the issue, some students believe that it should be the choice of the athlete and their parents as to whether or not they get vaccinated. To prove vaccination, parents must show the school a vaccination card with two doses of the BioNTech Pfizer vaccine or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

This vaccine mandate for FCPS student-athletes follows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as numerous other medical organizations. 

“High-risk sports and extracurricular activities should be virtual or canceled in areas of high community transmission unless all participants are fully vaccinated,” CDC said.