Massachusetts updating pandemic requirements for students, school sports

Massachusetts coronavirus

Massachusetts coronavirus. (Fusion Medical Animation/Unsplash/Clker-Free-Vector-Images/Pixabay)

BOSTON (AP) — Education and health officials in Massachusetts have released updated recommendations about and guidelines for attending schools and playing school sports in the fall.

State health officials say that flu vaccinations will be required for all students older than six months who attend child care, schools, and colleges. The state Department of Public Health said Wednesday that students must get the influenza vaccine by December 31 to reduce the possibility of a double whammy of respiratory illnesses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

There are exemptions, including for medical and religious reasons, as well as for homeschooled children and higher education students who are completely off-campus and engaged in remote learning only.

There also won’t be any high school football in Massachusetts this fall, although other sports will likely be played. The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Board of Directors on Wednesday approved a recommendation from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to allow low and moderate-risk sports to play during the fall season.

Golf, cross country, field hockey, soccer, gymnastics, and volleyball would begin practices starting September 18.

There is still hope that higher-risk sports like football will be played later in the school year, during a “floating season” starting in late February and running into April. The handling of all sports is still subject to change in order to control the coronavirus.

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