DC extends COVID-19 vaccination deadline for students

D.C. Public Schools COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students 12 and older is one of the strictest vaccination policies in the country. 

As the 2022-23 school year gets started, city officials have decided to give families more time to get students vaccinated. 

On Friday, Deputy Mayor for Education Paul Kihn announced the new deadlines in a letter to school leaders. All students who attend D.C. charter, public and private schools will now have until Jan. 3, 2023 to get vaxxed. Families who have students who have not submitted proof of their vaccine status by Nov. 21 will receive a notice.

"Eligible students must have received their primary COVID-19 vaccination series (e.g., two doses of the vaccines manufactured by Pfizer or Moderna or, certain eligible students aged 18 and over may elect to receive one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) or be proceeding in accordance with their vaccine series, unless otherwise exempted," the letter reads. "Booster doses are strongly recommended, but not required, for school attendance at this time."

School officials have voiced concerns about tracking enforcement for COVID-19 vaccinations since there is a layered 70-day implementation window. Kihn wrote that he hopes the new date for first exclusions of non-compliant students will give schools and administrators additional time to prepare and for students to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Previously, D.C. Public Schools wanted students to be up-to-date with immunizations within the first 20 days of school. If the student did not comply, they would not be allowed to attend classes or participate in school activities, and there will be no virtual schooling option for students who aren’t in compliance.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: DC enforcing strict vaccination policy for students this school year

D.C. Health said about 22,000 DCPS students are currently missing a required vaccination. 

Data provided by the health department shows about one in four students at both D.C. public and charter schools have been missing at least one required vaccination over the last three school years. 

Earlier this week, the NAACP claimed that the District's vaccine mandate unfairly impacts minority students. The civil rights organization is pushing for more remote learning options for unvaccinated students. 

While D.C.'s own data cited by D.C. Government says 100% of white children 12 to 15 years of age have received their COVID-19 shots, and only 61% of Black children are vaccinated — Mayor Muriel Bowser claims the real number of unvaccinated students is lower.

For more information on free vaccination options, visit DC.gov.