SEATTLE, Washington (CNN) — More than 1,400 Seattle Public Schools students are still at risk of being excluded from school if they don’t provide verified vaccination records by Wednesday, school system spokesman Tim Robinson said.
That’s down from last month when 2,200 needed to update their records. Robinson said he expects the number will keep declining as the January 8 deadline approaches.
Per state law, student records must reflect updated immunization status by Jan. 8 or students cannot attend school. SPS staff have supported thousands of families in updating their records and will provide free immunization clinics. Read more: https://t.co/whMU1S0jcA #SPSConnects pic.twitter.com/VL40hfOyU6
— Seattle Public Schools (@SeaPubSchools) January 2, 2020
The district — serving more than 50,000 students across 104 schools — sponsored three free immunization clinics since last month, when staff sent out a letter warning parents students would not be able to return without complete vaccination records.
At least 135 students were immunized at those clinics, Robinson said.
This is all following a Washington state law that went into effect over the summer, which says families can’t use personal and philosophical reasons to avoid having their children vaccinated with the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine, the state’s department of health said.
What happens on January 8
If students do show up for school on January 8 without complete immunization records, Robinson said, they will be pulled out of class by staff members and call their parents or guardians.
If parents can confirm the date the records will be finalized, their children will continue attending class, Robinson said.
But if a student misses school because they’re lacking the proper records, their missed days will be counted as unexcused absences, the school system previously said.
Those absences could be changed to excused once the student has returned to school with updated records, the system said.
Families of students who do not have updated records have already been notified by email, mail and a letter sent home from the student’s school, the school system said in a December news release.
“I think as responsible parents, we all should be responsible for our children,” Marieck Garcia, who said she took her daughter to one of the free clinics, told CNN affiliate KCPQ. “I think that’s important to keep everybody healthy.”
The new state law
The newly signed state law requires that students are fully vaccinated, be in the process of completing immunizations or have a signed Certificate of Exemption — religious or medical exemption, in order to attend school — the school district says.
Under the new law, school staff were required to follow up with children who had personal or philosophical exemptions to the MMR vaccine.
Most students weren’t affected by the change in law, the state’s health department said.
“More than 9 out of 10 kindergartners in Washington are complete with both doses of MMR vaccine, and 96 percent of 6th graders have both doses. These students, along with those who have medical or religious exemptions, will notice no change from the new exemption law,” it said.