New York City public school students wishing to participate in high-contact sports this fall will have to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19, the city announced Friday.
The new policy affects an estimated 20,000 students and staffers who participate in the Public School Athletic League in specific sports like football, basketball, and lacrosse.
“This is in alignment with recent New York State and CDC guidance, which stated that high-risk sports and extracurricular activities should be virtual or canceled in areas of high community transmission unless all participants are fully vaccinated,” said Department of Education spokesperson Nathaniel Styer in a statement.
The DOE said the high-risk sports, where close contact between players can occur, are: the fall sports of football and volleyball, winter sports of basketball and wrestling, and spring sports of lacrosse, stunt, and rugby. Kids and staffers involved in bowling will also need to be vaccinated because it takes place indoors.
Fully vaccinated people can remove their masks while playing high-risk sports outdoors.
To participate in the listed sports, students need to get their first dose of a vaccine by the first day of competitive play — for football, that’s September 3rd while for volleyball that’s September 27th.
“This is really important for anyone who is an athlete or intends to be an athlete or be involved,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Friday. “We want to make sure our athletes are safe, given the particular nature of these sports.”
De Blasio has said so far 56% of students between 12 and 17—or almost 300,000 of the city’s adolescents—have been vaccinated, though the data doesn’t say whether they are private or public school students.
“We owe it to our young people to make it possible for them to safely return to the sports they love,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter in a statement. “Vaccinations are our passport out of this pandemic and this vaccine mandate will ensure everyone on high-risk teams are protected and able to compete.”
“Sports help keep young people healthy and vaccines will keep them in the game,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi in a statement. “This is a sensible approach to athletics that involve closer contact. We applaud the Department of Education for taking this step to protect young athletes.”
To learn more about requirements, go to vaccine.schools.nyc.