Just as many employers are evaluating whether they can or should require that their employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a precondition to return, in person, to work (as further discussed in this article), this same type of analysis will also happen in connection with other activities. It is anticipated that third party-imposed vaccination requirements are likely to start cropping up more and more as a precondition to participation in other activities such as flying on an airplane or using other highly populated spaces.
But what about schools? Can public schools, as a precondition for students to enroll and receive education in grades K – 12, require that children receive the COVID-19 vaccination? What about private schools? Or day-care facilities for even younger children? In Ohio, the answer is very possibly yes. Thus, for parents that have objections or concerns as it relates to the COVID-19 vaccine, this possible requirement—as well as possible exceptions to the same—is worth starting to explore now.
As a starting point, it’s worth noting that, while the COVID-19 vaccine is not presently required as a prerequisite for students in Ohio to attend school in grades K – 12 or a day-care facility, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that that will change. Indeed, in Ohio, school districts and boards of education of the municipalities are empowered, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code 3313.67 and 3313.671, to make and enforce rules to ensure that minor children receive certain vaccinations, as a precondition to attending school in said district or municipality, in order to prevent the spread of communicable disease, when the safety and interest of the public so requires. These requirements apply to all Ohio students that attend an elementary or high school “for which the state board of education prescribes minimum standards” pursuant to Ohio law—and thus, generally, applies to public and private schools alike.
Specifically, Ohio Revised Code 3313.671 provides that no student shall be permitted to attend and remain in grades K – 12 in school in Ohio, unless the student presents satisfactory written evidence that:
- he or she has been immunized against certain identified diseases;
- he or she is in the process of being immunized against certain identified diseases; or
- he or she has satisfied certain identified exceptions.
Ohio Revised Code 3313.671(B) sets forth the three exceptions to receiving the identified vaccinations:
- The student provides separate written evidence that he or she has already had rubella, mumps and/or chicken pox, and is therefore not required to be immunized against those specific diseases;
- The student’s parent or guardian provides a written statement “in which the parent or guardian declines to have the pupil immunized for reasons of conscience, including religious convictions”; or
- The student’s physician provides a written certification that immunization against the disease is not medically advisable for that person.
The vaccination requirements and exceptions for minor children enrolled in daycare facilities in Ohio are set forth in Ohio Revised Code 5104.014, and are very similar to those set forth above as to children in grades K-12.
Notably, Ohio Revised Code 3313.671, as it pertains to minor children in grades K – 12, has been modified several times in recent years in order to add new required vaccinations, including those for chicken pox and meningococcal disease. As such, it’s certainly a possibility that the Ohio legislature could seek to revise this statute, once again, or otherwise move to codify a new, separate statute, in order to require the COVID-19 vaccine as a similar precondition for students attending grades K – 12 in Ohio’s schools or its daycare facilities.
Depending on the timing of the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine—as well as the evolution of the medical guidance as it relates to the administration of the same to children—it is very likely that we will have a more concrete answer on this question before back-to-school in fall 2021. However, for concerned parents, the time to start considering and monitoring this issue is not July 31, 2021, but instead, right now.
These are unprecedented times, replete with real-life issues that directly impact the wellbeing and safety of you and your children. But that’s where KJK Family Law comes in. We are here for you and your family, during this COVID-19 pandemic and every day. If you need assistance on these or other domestic relations matter, please contact Janet Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (216) 696-8700.