If you think the Schenectady school board’s decision to require student-athletes to get vaccinated against covid is unfair, put yourself in the position of a member of the JV football team.
Ask one of them what they consider to be unfair.
For the third time in this young season, district Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. said, a majority of the team – 19 players in the latest case – is in quarantine because of recent exposure to the virus the status of not being vaccinated.
Missing games and practices because of unvaccinated teammates is unfair. Punishing healthy players for the unhealthy or unnecessarily vulnerable players is unfair. Sitting home and not being able to go to school or play the sport they love is unfair.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to limit exposures among teammates and the best way to allow the players to get on the field.
So the school board should be commended for taking the controversial stance of mandating all student athletes be fully vaccinated by mid-November.
Under the new policy, approved by a 4-3 vote, vaccinated athletes won’t have to quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms of the virus.
It’s a decision that not only protects the health of the players, coaches and other teams, but also one that allows the teams to play their seasons with much less of a chance of having to postpone or end the season prematurely.
Think how unfair it seemed last year when so many student-athletes were deprived of the opportunity to compete because of the virus. Same for this year.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommends everyone 12 years and older get a covid shot, calling widespread vaccination “a critical tool to help stop the pandemic.”
The CDC says people who are fully vaccinated can resume activities that they did prior to the pandemic.
That’s a plus for sports teams operating in a limited time frame for playing their games. If other districts impose the mandate, it will further decrease the likelihood of games being postponed or canceled.
It’s true the mandate will prevent students who don’t get vaccinated from being able to play sports. And the mandate could result in fewer players being available to play, since some kids and their parents will choose to opt out rather than be vaccinated.
That’s all unfortunate.
But the mandate is necessary to protect other student-athletes, as well as help ensure the seasons can be held with as little interruption as possible.
School board members should be commended for taking this stance and for putting the health and well-being of the students above politics and above the threat of criticism that they are wrongly, but likely, to receive.