October 30, 2021
Students who play interscholastic sports in the School District of Philadelphia will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to participate, the district announced Friday.
The requirement goes into effect starting this winter sports season and continues for the spring season. For winter sports, athletes will have to provide proof of vaccination by Dec. 18 and by March 1 for spring sports.
Superintendent William Hite said in a letter to families that based on expert guidelines, students should be vaccinated due to the sustained close contact while playing sports which can increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.
"For many students, interscholastic athletics are an important aspect of their educational experience," Hite said. "Requiring athletes to get vaccinated will reduce the need to quarantine teams, which will prevent canceled practices, games and potentially entire seasons."
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association recommended earlier this year that all student athletes in the state get vaccinated to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also released guidance that encourages kids 12 and older to get the shot.
Athletes will still be tested twice weekly until they provide proof of vaccination by the deadlines, the district said. If a student cannot provide full proof, they will not be able to play.
Students involved with winter sports – like basketball, bowling, cheerleading, indoor track, swimming and wrestling – must:
• Get first doses by Nov. 13
• Get second doses by Dec. 4 (or first shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine)
• Be fully vaccinated by Dec. 18
Students playing spring sports – badminton, baseball, lacrosse, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball – must:
• Get first shots by Jan. 25
• Get second shots by Feb. 15 (or first shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
• Be fully vaccinated by March 1
There are exemptions offered for medical or religious reasons, and athletes must submit the vaccination exemption form to the school nurse at least seven days before the start of the season. Those approved will be tested for COVID-19 every two weeks.