Portsmouth school board considers vaccine requirement for student athletes


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The discussion over student-athletes and COVID-19 vaccines continues in Hampton Roads.

During Thursday night’s specially called meeting, school board members for Portsmouth Public Schools voiced concerns over student-athletes and their scholarship eligibility if they keep needing to cancel games.

The board also listened to a presentation from Portsmouth epidemiologist Michelle Winz as she explained that the city has had 290 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days.

Portsmouth is still considered high risk for community transmission because of a 13.1% positivity rate, along with an average of 40 new cases per day.

Winz recommended student-athletes and those participating in extracurricular activities get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID testing.

While student-athletes all over the seven cities have had to cancel or postpone games because of COVID outbreaks, Winz stated that they aren’t getting the virus on the field, but during carpools and other outside-of-school activities with their teammates where they aren’t wearing masks.

School board members will continue the vaccine and athletics discussion in the coming weeks and did not vote on a resolution Thursday.

However, some area school divisions have already voted on vaccine mandates for athletes and those in extracurricular activities, including Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake.

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