Athletes looking to participate this year in school sports won’t have to vaccinate in order to be allowed to play – but if they don’t, they’ll have to test twice a week to prove their not COVID-positive.
The requirement is a change from last year, which mandated players be up-to-date on their immunization shots in order to take the field. It’s less stringent in that regard, as case counts have dropped considerably compared to a year ago, and is a number of eased regulations the Hawai‘i Department of Education has implemented this school year compared to the pandemic days.
The 2022-23 school year for students begins Monday, Aug. 1.
“The widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines, high levels of infection-induced and vaccine-induced immunity, increased access to testing, and effective treatments have allowed an adapted approach to COVID-19 prevention and mitigation,” the HDOE stated in its protocols for the upcoming year. “All guidance, including this document, is subject to change as new information regarding COVID-19 becomes available.”
Among the biggest changes for students this year compared to last year is indoor and outdoor mask-wearing is optional.
For student-athletes, those who show proof of full vaccination are cleared to play immediately. Full vaccination includes the CDC recommendations for their age groups, which includes boosters in addition to their primary doses for those 6 years old and up.
Those who choose not to vaccinate must test twice a week utilizing a test taken through a CLIA-certified laboratory or under an approved CLIA Certificate of Waiver or a home-based test that is authorized for use by the FDA to participate in athletic activities, the department stated.
“There will be no medical or religious exemption to these requirements for student voluntary participation in athletics,” HDOT stated.
Quarantine is not required following in-school exposure unless active clusters or outbreaks necessitate a temporary return to quarantine of in-school exposures to prevent ongoing transmission.
Quarantine is required for students who are not up to date on all COVID-19 vaccinations for their age group and are in a household or other non-school related close contact of a person who has COVID-19 and must stay home for five days after last contact with the person with COVID-19; and get tested.
Last year, COVID restrictions delayed the start of the fall athletic season until late September to allow for anyone unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated to get inoculated.