Fairfax Co. high school athletes will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19

If you want to play high school sports in Fairfax County, the public school system is going to require you to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Starting Nov. 8, proof of a COVID-19 vaccination will be required for participation in the Virginia High School League for winter and spring sports for the remainder of the 2021-22 school year.

The jab will be a must for any other activity that requires a physical, according to a FCPS release. That includes dance and step teams, as well as out-of-season practices and workouts.

“Vaccinating our students is a critical step in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and minimizing any disruption to learning,” Superintendent Scott S. Bradbrand said.

“The majority of pauses to instruction for our high school students come as a result of exposure during athletic activities, which the Virginia Department of Education classifies as a high-risk activity. These pauses impact participation in activities and in-person learning while the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) investigates and determines close contacts and next steps.”

According to FCPS data, as of Aug. 20:

  • 62.6% of 12- to 15-year-olds are fully vaccinated, and 76.1% have had one dose.
  • 74.9% of 16- to 17-year-olds are fully vaccinated, and 88.2% have had one dose.

“While we know this is a difficult decision for some families, it is an essential step that we must take to limit the duration of a pause, getting students back to the classroom and their activities sooner, but still safely,” Brabrand said.

“We will share more information in the coming weeks on how to provide proof of vaccination and vaccination opportunities for students.”

FCPS said there will be religious and medical exemptions, with details to follow.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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