SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Students in Suffolk who want to play sports or participate in extracurricular activities this year have a choice to make: get vaccinated or get tested regularly for COVID-19.
On Thursday night, the Suffolk School Board voted 6-1 to require all students participating in sports and other extracurriculars in middle school and high school to either get vaccinated against COVID-19 or be subject to weekly testing for the virus.
The students, if eligible to get the vaccine, will need to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 12. If they aren’t, they will be tested instead.
All coaches and sponsors are also required to be tested regularly or get the vaccine.
Suffolk Public Schools will give athletes a list of clinics where they can get vaccinated. The district will also host two vaccine clinics in October to help students meet the Nov. 12 deadline.
“I don’t have a problem with it. I think it’s a great idea for them. It gives them a little bit more freedom. A little bit more peace of mind,” said grandfather Edward Chism.
Chism has a 14-year-old grandson who plays on Nansemond River’s junior varsity football team. Not long after his first vaccine, he contracted COVID-19 and had to sit out for two weeks.
“He’s excited about being able to play in the next game.” Chism explained.
Shedrick Roberts, whose youngest son attends Nansemond River High School, told 10 On Your Side he understands why Suffolk School Board members passed the policy.
“I still think it should be left up to the family members, especially parents, deciding whether or not they should vaccinate their kids,” Roberts stated. “We’re not allowing him to play sports during this time and he’s not vaccinated as well.”
According to the resolution passed by the board, high transmission in the community and evidence indicating COVID-19 spreads differently among children — many of whom are asymptomatic — supported the board’s decision.