Sports are back in play across Hawai´i, but only for those participants who have been vaccinated.
The State Department of Education (DOE) set the date of Friday, Sept. 24 as the restart for school-sanctioned athletic activities. The timeline was developed just days before classes were set to resume, as questions lingered about safety protocols in extracurricular activities like sports that inherently create close and repeated contact between participants.
Those students who wish to participate must produce COVID-19 vaccination records showing their first shot of the two-dose regimen was received prior to Aug. 20, with the second dose administered three weeks later (or as close to three weeks as possible).
Members of coaching and training staffs are also subject to the vaccine requirement.
Limited exemptions have been made possible for those who wish to participate in sports and can show legitimate medical and/or religious justifications that allow them to avoid being vaccinated.
While practices will resume Friday, with games to follow closely behind, the atmosphere will still prove quite different from pre-pandemic norms, as no spectators will be allowed at athletic contests until further notice.
Protests have been held across the Hawaiian Islands in response to the vaccine requirement, as some students and their parents believe the policy to be unfair and discriminatory against those exercising their rights as to medical choice.
While students do not need to be vaccinated to attend school, the state has held to its position that extracurricular activities are privileges, not inherent rights. As such, it continues to hold the DOE’s vaccination mandate for athletic participation as legitimate based on its primary initiative, which is to protect the greater public health.