D.C. Delays Enforcement Of Student Vaccine Mandate

Following pushback, Washington D.C. has delayed enforcement of its student vaccine mandate until later this year.

By Erika Hanson | Published

Black Student’s Proficiency In Math And English Plunges In D.C. Schools

student vaccine mandate

Heading into a new school year tarnished by the ongoing COVID pandemic, nearly all schools in America will not require a student vaccine mandate for immunization against the virus. California is the only state that has laid out a plan to require inoculation for public school students, but with pushback, the act was halted. Washington D.C was one of only a few areas left to require the vaccine, and even the nation’s capitol has now delayed that requirement.

According to a report from The Santa Barbara News-Press, the enforcement of D.C.’s student vaccine mandate is being delayed until January 3rd. The passage of the bill was met with staunch pushback from certain groups. To date, the city is struggling to bring thousands of students in compliance with the requirement, and the policy is ridiculed as disproportionately affecting black students

Under the student vaccine mandate provision, students 12 and older attending public schools in the city were required to get the COVID shot. Originally, students would have had to receive at least the first dose of the vaccine by the first day of school. This would have meant nearly a quarter of city children would likely have been forced out of school. According to a report from DCist, 26% of students remained non-compliant with the district’s “no shots, no school” policy.

Council member Christina Henderson, who championed the bill for D.C.’s student vaccine mandate asserted that the decision was never to punish unvaccinated students, conveying that it was simply an attempt to keep the community safe. However, the fact that the requirement would mean that it would lock noncompliant students out of school, with no education, outraged opposers.

Republican lawmakers and various reports lambasted the student vaccine mandate, pointing out that it would expel black students at a much larger rate. Adversaries pointed to city data displaying COVID inoculation figures broken up by both age and race. Minority children were vaccinated at far lower rates than white children. 

Additionally, the student vaccine mandate garnered national attention and criticism for being one of the few areas across the entire country to make the requirement. States and local districts have been hesitant to enforce this ruling to avoid apparent politicization fueled by COVID-19 mandates. Likewise, the mere fact that the vaccine is not fully approved for children 12 and under has affected decisions. 

student vaccine mandate

Now that Washington D.C. has delayed its student vaccine mandate, there are few districts left that will start the school year with the requirement. New Orleans is one such major city district that still is keeping with a mandate requiring the COVID shot. However, their lenient policy makes it extremely easy for any family opposed to the vaccination to file for an exemption. 

For now, students 12 and older attending D.C. public schools have a few more months to either become up to date with the controversial student vaccine mandate or find alternative schooling options. With the debate over the policy being as contentious as ever, anything could happen in the next few months. By January, the policy may stay as is, or even be challenged further, which may result in it never being enforced.