SUFFOLK, Va. - Suffolk Public School athletes will need to roll up their sleeves if they want to get on the field this year. This comes after the Suffolk school board voted to make the COVID-19 vaccine a requirement for student-athletes.
“I make a motion that we approve the resolution for all students participating in high school and middle school athletics and extracurricular activities to receive a COVID vaccine or to be subject to weekly testing,” a Suffolk school board member said.
Suffolk school board voted six to one to require student athletes to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit a weekly negative COVID-19 test to the school nurse. Nansemond River’s Head coach saying that the decision is ultimately up to the parents.
"Obviously it’s a safety issue. It’s a protocol and just wanting to keep everybody safe and have no outbreaks. But I stand by whatever the young men's parents decide to do for their young men," Alonzo Ricks Jr. said, head football Coach at Nansemond River High School.
Melinda Lemar, the mother of number 67 on Nansemond River’s football team says she agrees with the school board’s decision.
"My son already had the vaccine before school started. But I think it prevents the school having to shutdown sports or the football team because someone contracted COVID and now everybody has to quarantine," Melinda Lemar said, a parent of a Nansemond River High School football player.
Students participating in high school and middle school athletics must be fully vaccinated by November 12th.
Richie Soriano, the father of number 78 on the field, says the school district’s decision is beneficial to the health of athletes.
"If they want to continue on playing for college football, this gives them the exposure they need so I"m all for it. My whole house is fully vaccinated. I’m required at my job t be fully vaccinated," Richie Soriano said, a parent of Nansemond High Football Player.
The mandate comes as more high school football games have been canceled due to COVID-19.
"I stand by my young men and their parents and hopefully we’ll be able to reach that threshold of being fully vaccinated," Coach Ricks Jr. said.