NEW YORK (PIX11) — A public school parent was faced with a tough choice after the Department of Education shared its COVID guidelines for the upcoming year.
While Tara Murphy’s 7-year-old daughter had received a vaccination shot, her 5-year-old child had not. Murphy didn’t have plans to vaccinate her younger daughter, but she’ll have to if she wants her youngest to join her older sister in their after-school activities at PS 11.
“So you can go to school, you can do PE, you can eat lunch, you can dance, theater – I mean my school has amazing enrichment. My daughter can go swimming during her PE day, but come 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., she cannot participate in any of those activities unless she is fully vaccinated. So what’s the difference?”
Students 5 and up are required to be fully vaccinated to participate in high-risk after school activities, including chorus, music, theater, dance, band, step teams, cheerleading and even chess.
“You know, I lay awake at night tossing, turning over what to do,” the mom said. “I mean to me, this policy at this point just feels discriminatory. It feels punitive. Our children have suffered enough.”
Students must also be fully vaccinated to play in the public schools’ athletic league.
Coach Ron Naclerio has the most PSAL basketball wins ever under his belt. He has been with Cardozo High School in Queens for a half century.
He says prior to the pandemic, at least a dozen students were getting sports scholarships to college.But this mandate is taking away an opportunity to be seen by scouts and athletes are leaving the school system in droves.
According to city health data, 40% of New Yorkers 5 and up do not meet the two dose vaccine requirement.
The city’s Health Department said, “Many high-risk extracurricular activities are performed indoors, are strenuous, and entail closer contact than classroom activities. The guidance is intended to keep kids safe both in class and within these after-school activities.”
Coaches are calling foul. About U outreach coach George Lanese said many games were canceled last year. He noted football, volley ball, soccer and basketball players left.
Lanese says if the mayor is so serious about fighting crime, he should allow all children to participate in after school programs.
“The city isn’t safe right now. Where are they going to go? That could lead to an increase in gang initiation and we know there is a direct correlation to violence,” Lanese said.
Coaches are waiting for guidance about playing teams who don’t have the same vaccine requirement and if they can have home games.
Correction: PIX11 initially reported a 7-year-old girl was fully vaccinated when she had only received one shot. The post had been updated.