Parents react after VBCPS requires student-athletes to be fully vaccinated or submit for weekly COVID-19 testing

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Posted at 9:38 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 23:20:43-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Tuesday night, Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) officials sent a notice to families and staff for high school students interested in playing sports this winter: Get fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or get tested weekly for the duration of their participation.

For Virginia Beach parent Tonya Rivers, her son wants to continue playing soccer potentially later for a VBCPS school.

“Extracurriculars are important,” Rivers told News 3. “Going into the winter season, a lot of the sports become indoor-type sports.”

In an email sent Tuesday night, VBCPS officials said, "We believe these actions will stem the number of COVID-19 cases that arise from athletic activities and reduce the amount of time our student athletes are out of the classroom."

“You don’t want to take away extracurriculars to protect the school,” Rivers said. “You want to be able to have both so students could have a full school experience this year.”

But other families aren’t for the decision.

“It is a basic right for parents to be able to decide what happens to their children,” Virginia Beach mother Merrilee Gasser said. “This should not be happening.”

“I think it’s foolish,” Virginia Beach grandparent Thomas Conant said. “They’re trying to build the safety of our community on our children’s backs, and that’s just wrong.”

Victoria Manning, VBCPS at-large school board member, believes the decision should’ve been voted on by the school board.

“I’m not against the vaccine, but I am against mandating the vaccine,” Manning told News 3. “I think that should be a choice for parents, and even though there is a choice for testing, I think that’s intrusive.”

But for Rivers, she calls the move, “a fair compromise.”

“Nobody’s forcing a vaccine,” she said. “They can choose not to participate in sports, or they can choose to get tested. They have a multitude of options at their hands.”

District officials said November 8 is the deadline for student-athletes to be vaccinated. It’s also when testing will start for those who choose that option.

Officials added testing will be no charge to families.

Related: Many local school districts are requiring student-athletes to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Here's a list of which ones

VBCPS officials also provided some information on locations to get the vaccine:

Week of Sept. 27
First shot, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Bayside High School Wednesday, Sept. 29
Kempsville Middle School Thursday, Sept. 30

Week of Oct. 4
First shot, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Tallwood High School Wednesday, Oct. 6
First Colonial High School Thursday, Oct. 7

Week of Oct. 11
Second shot, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Green Run High School Monday, Oct. 11
Tallwood High School Wednesday, Oct. 13
Bayside Middle School Thursday, Oct. 14

Week of Oct. 18
Second shot, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
First Colonial High School Monday, Oct. 18
Bayside High School Wednesday, Oct. 20
Kempsville Middle School Thursday, Oct. 21

Week of Oct. 25
Second shot, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Tallwood High School Wednesday, Oct. 27
First Colonial High School Thursday, Oct. 28

For more information on the vaccine, including where to get vaccinated, visit the Virginia Dept. of Health COVID-19 vaccine webpage.

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