With one major exception – student-athletes – Arlington Public Schools is not, and likely will not be, keeping tabs on the COVID-vaccination status of students.
“We don’t know the names” of those who have been vaccinated, Superintendent Francisco Durán told School Board members on Dec. 2.
“The school will only be asking [parents] if your child is vaccinated if they are in close contact” with students who test positive for the virus, Durán said.
The school system does receive data from the Virginia Department of Health, but only in general terms. Those figures show near-universal vaccinations among those ages 12 to 17 in Arlington, and a growing percentage of students ages 5 to 11 getting the shots now that they are eligible.
Some states have permitted, or in some cases required, local school districts to mandate COVID vaccination as they do other inoculations in order for students to attend school, but Virginia has not taken that step – and with a Republican governor on the way in just a month from now, would seem unlikely to be moving in that direction. Absent state authorization, Virginia localities do not have the power to compel COVID vaccinations in most cases.
However, most Northern Virginia school districts are now requiring those participating in Virginia High School League-sanctioned sports to prove vaccination status, something that began in early November with the start of practice for the winter sports season. And while government-imposed vaccine mandates seem to be running into difficulty once in the court system, thus far the mandate on local athletes has not been adjudicated.