Vaccine Mandate Delays Start of Hawaii HS Sports

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Everyone involved in Hawaii high school athletics in the 2021-22 school year will be vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the Hawaii State Department of Education has mandated the vaccine for all high school student-athletes, athletic staff and volunteers. They will need to be fully vaccinated — two weeks after receiving their final dose — by Sept. 24 in order to participate in school-sanctioned athletic events. Therefore, the DOE delayed the start of fall sports until late September, pushing them back more than a month after preseason football was scheduled to start Friday.

“We opened the new school year this week with in-person learning and our highest priority is to ensure all students, including your child, can continue to attend school safely,” interim DOE superintendent Keith Hayashi said in a letter addressed to parents. “In the meantime, due to the state’s high positivity rate, the Department is delaying the start of the fall athletic season until Sept. 24 to allow for anyone unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated to get inoculated.

“This decision was not made lightly because we know the important role athletics play in a well-rounded education, but we cannot jeopardize the health and safety of our students and communities. The alternative is cancelling the season outright, which we do not want to have to do. We are implementing this layered plan that prioritizes vaccination as the best way to protect against and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.”

The DOE is requiring proof of full vaccination or administration of the first and/or second vaccination dose to be submitted to the school’s principal by Aug. 20.

According to the Star-Advertiser, the “announcement comes as the state is in the midst of its greatest COVID-19 case surge of the pandemic, and as its testing positivity hits 6 percent.”

All Hawaii high school fall sports were canceled last year due to the pandemic.

Related: Masks Still Have Place as High School Sports Returning

Related: NCAA Updates COVID-19 Guidance for Fall Sports

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