Alabama public schools cannot require proof of COVID vaccine

Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 10:40 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - School administrators around the Valley are keeping their eyes on the increase in COVID-19 cases as the start of the school year nears. And as of now, many districts plan to make masks optional.

A Madison City Schools mom of four says she is a little uneasy. Her two eldest children are vaccinated, but she’s sending two kids back to the classroom who have not had the chance to get the COVID-19 vaccine yet.

”I was really hoping that they could get the vaccine approved for kids under 12 before they started school. I’m a little disappointed and a little sad about that,” Tracy Abney said.

Tracy Abney is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. So are her 15 and 16-year-olds.

“Both of them, the first day that the vaccine was available for their age group,” Abney said.

She says she’s a little nervous about masks being optional at Madison City Schools. “I probably will encourage them to wear them, whether or not they do is a different story.”

Madison City isn’t the only school district where masks are optional. At Madison County Schools, masks are also a personal choice.

Although the CDC recommends everyone who isn’t vaccinated to wear a mask, school board president Dave Weis says making them optional makes the most sense, considering Alabama’s law.

“It would be nearly impossible for Madison county schools to implement the CDC guidance of mandating mask wearing for those that are unvaccinated because we have no way to track it. And we cannot ask people if they’ve been vaccinated or not,” Weis explained.

In the last legislative session, Alabama lawmakers passed the vaccine passport law.

The new law states government entities, which includes schools, cannot require proof of vaccination, unless the vaccines were already mandatory as of January 2021.

There are also exceptions to vaccine proof for religious reasons.

Thursday, a representative with the FDA said a COVID vaccine for children under 12 could be available this winter.

Abney says her two youngest will get theirs as soon as it is. “Yes it’s for them, but it’s also for the rest of the community.”

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