County’s New Vaccine Mandate In Play


Beginning November 8th, Fairfax County Public Schools will require student-athletes to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Superintendent Brabrand has said in interviews that this is an effort to keep students safe and schools running as normal.

“The cases that were positive that also spread [around the county] were coming from athletics,” said Ms. Millard.
However, there is some controversy about this in the West Potomac community. According to a parent on the Nextdoor site, they want to avoid vaccinating their child as they feel the mandate is a violation of their parental right to choose. Other parents have responded to this, saying it is an important step to take in protecting all children.
“I understand where any parent or individual is on their personal choice to be vaccinated,” Millard says, “what I struggle with, is the side where I’m concerned about kids losing time for instruction…We’ve missed enough school.” While West Potomac has not had many COVID cases, the current average is 1 a week, there is still work to be done in controlling COVID, as sports teams are one of the main sources for COVID spread in the county, these regulations have been introduced in order to prevent this possible influx of absences.

Despite the controversy, this rule will take effect November 8th, and students who are 16 and older will be required to show proof of vaccination or they will not be allowed to participate in sports unless they have a religious or medical exemption. Students who are unvaccinated between the ages of 12-15 will be able to participate provided that they take a weekly COVID test. At West Potomac this will be managed by the student activities office, who will operate as the COVID Coordinator for athletics at the school. They will manage the vaccination and testing records for all athletic teams, while the testing will be done by an outside company. The grant was just awarded and administration is not sure of the name as of printing.

“I feel like this is a really good thing, because it gives student athletes a way to play their sports while still being safe and making sure everyone on the team is safe,” said Grace McGee, a senior on marching band, swim, and crew.
If a player is found to have tested positive, that player will be sidelined until they’re cleared and their close contacts on the sports team will be tested, but the sport as a whole won’t be paused. This is meant to both protect the athletes while ensuring that the sports season goes as smoothly as possible.

“I think it ensures the safety of the teams’ health and they will be able to play full seasons without the fear and stress of possibly getting COVID,” senior Gabi Loza, a member of the girls soccer team stated.

“I love it. I think there is no reason anyone shouldn’t be vaccinated right now, and the decision to require all athletes to be vaccinated is absolutely best for the health of the school,” Fiona Houlgate, a senior on Marching Band, swim, and the girls soccer team remarked.

As the teams seek to work with different opinions and thoughts regarding this mandate, according to Ms. Hubbard, a biology teacher and field hockey coach, one fact is more important than the rest of the noise, “Part of being on a team is putting your team before yourself.”