Schools Will Need Some Guidance After Rush To Pass Bill On Religious Exemptions

As is often the case, in its rush to deal with one week’s crisis du jour, New York state has implemented a law that doesn’t address the entirety of a problem.

Local school districts have begun planning for a new law that does not recognize religious exemptions for students who are not vaccinated. The state Senate and Assembly voted June 13 to eliminate the exemption. Previously, families were allowed to cite religious beliefs to void school-required vaccinations in order to enroll. Students have up to 30 days after entering school to show proof of the first dose of immunization.

While most schools don’t have many students try to enroll who don’t have their vaccinations, what happens for school districts who regularly transport unvaccinated children on a school bus filled with vaccinated children? Many school districts are obligated to transport students who live in the district but are not enrolled at any of its schools. This stipulation includes students who attend private school and home school including many Amish children in the county.

Will school districts have to make special accommodations for unvaccinated students on their school buses? Will they have to make special trips? Will parents be responsible for transporting the students from now on? Of course, the state’s hastily passed legislation doesn’t address that concern.

The start of the school year is about a month away, and busing plans are being developed now. The state needs to develop some guidance, quickly.