- The Washington Times
Monday, September 20, 2021

District Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Monday new COVID-19 vaccine requirements for student-athletes and for adults who are regularly in schools and child-care facilities.

All adults who are regularly in schools and child-care centers — including teachers, principals, coaches, librarians, social workers and bus drivers — must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1. 

The policy applies to District public schools, public charter schools, private schools, parochial schools and child-care facilities regulated by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

There is no option for testing out. 

“Our focus right now is on making sure our children stay in school, and the best way we can protect them, not knowing when all of them will be eligible for vaccination, is to keep every adult that they interact with vaccinated,” Ms. Bowser said during a COVID-19 briefing. “That’s what the science tells us. That’s what employers all over this country are moving toward. And that is where we will be.” 

City officials also said that all student-athletes ages 12 and older must get inoculated after Nov. 1 to participate in school-based sports.

Students who turn 12 between Sept. 20 and Nov. 1 must be fully vaccinated before Dec. 13. 

The requirement does not apply to athletics at Department of Parks and Recreation facilities or private club sports and athletics unless athletes train or compete at school facilities in the city. 

Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Virginia and Montgomery County in Maryland already have vaccination mandates in place for student-athletes.

Lewis Ferebee, DCPS chancellor, said there are currently more than 1,400 school children quarantined throughout the District due to COVID-19 exposure, a number that changes daily. 

Public school students returned to District classrooms on Aug. 30. 

More than 380,600 District residents 18 and older are fully vaccinated, or about 66% of that age group, according to city health data and about 448,000 adults have received at least one dose or nearly 78%. 

More than 471,300 residents 12 and older, or about 77%, are at least partially vaccinated while more than 396,800 of them, or 65%, are fully inoculated. 

Christina Henderson, at-large council member, said the mayor’s new mandates will save lives. 

“This is a crucial step in the right direction to protect our students and school communities,” said Ms. Henderson. “I am pleased we have taken action today.” 

Last month, Ms. Henderson, along with council members Charles Allen, Janeese Lewis George, Brianne K. Nadeau, Anita Bonds, Mary Cheh, Elissa Silverman and Brooke Pinto, sent a letter to Ms. Bowser urging her to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for all school, child-care facility and government workers who have regular in-person contact with youth, only providing exceptions for medical reasons. 

D.C. government employees had until Sunday to get fully vaccinated and report their vaccination status. Those who are not yet fully vaccinated must submit to weekly testing and test negative within seven days of getting tested. 

As of Monday, 87% of government workers reported their vaccination status, city officials said, revealing that 72% of all D.C. government employees are fully inoculated against COVID-19. 

All health care workers in the District are mandated to get at least their first dose of the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Sept. 30. 

• Shen Wu Tan can be reached at stan@washingtontimes.com.

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