Proof of COVID-19 vaccination applies to extracurriculars

The Greak Lakes Wolfpack taking on the LCCVI Lancers in boys high school basketball. December 2019. Photo by Great Lakes Secondary School.

Lambton-Kent’s public and Catholic school boards are advising parents that additional vaccine requirements announced by area health units will affect student athletes.

Lambton Public Health and Chatham-Kent Public Health announced a proof of vaccination requirement for anyone entering an indoor sport and recreational facility who is 12 years of age and older.

The Lambton Kent and St. Clair Catholic district school boards issued a joint letter on Tuesday to advise parents and specify that schools will follow the direction of the medical officers of health for the two regions.

“We look forward to your cooperation and support, as we continue to work with our public health partners to keep our athletic programs in our schools safe for our student athletes, coaches and spectators,” read the joint letter.

Starting October 31 (or Monday, November 1), student athletes 12 and up, and coaching staff, who participate in indoor sports will be required to provide identification and proof of being fully or partially vaccinated against COVID-19. By November 30, proof of full vaccination will be required, unless a valid medical exemption has been given.

LKDSB Director of Education John Howitt said the requirement applies to extracurricular activities and not gym classes that are scheduled during school hours.

“This is referring to those organized athletics that happen outside of the school day,” he said.

Howitt said it’s unknown exactly how many students will be affected by the vaccine requirement.

“It will vary from region to region and team to team,” he said. “A significant number of student athletes participate in community athletics and are already required to be vaccinated for that.”

Howitt said once the vaccine requirement comes into effect, two sports will already be underway.

“We’re right in the middle of season one which has a number of sports, some outdoors which are not impacted,” he said. “The two indoor sports that are, are volleyball and basketball.”

All spectators to indoor extracurricular sports activities who are 12 years of age and older must also show proof of vaccination, as previously communicated.

-With files from Melanie Irwin