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Flu vaccine deadline for schools extended

WESTFIELD – The deadline for students in kindergarten through grade 12 to receive the flu vaccination unless they obtained a medical or religious exemption has been extended to Feb. 28, 2021 for this school year only.

The previous deadline was Dec. 31, 2020. Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski received word on the extensions Dec. 22 from the state Department of Health.

The new guidelines stated that schools and school districts have authority to implement vaccination requirements at the local level, and may set policies appropriate for their communities regarding the deadlines for submitting documentation of vaccination.

It also stated that schools and school districts make every effort to ensure that families are connected to school nurses for resources for facilitating access to vaccination, if unable to receive through their primary care provider, and that schools and school districts should send a reminder out to parents of this requirement as soon as possible.’

Czaporowski said that Westfield Public Schools had already extended the date to January 19, when students are scheduled to return to in person learning.

Czaporowski said while it varies by school, the district was over 80 percent of students that had received the flu shot or provided a medical or religious exemption. He said phone calls to parents by principals, assistant principals and school nurses were underway.

“The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents engaged Governor Baker directly on this topic at the request of district Superintendents. I am pleased with the reprieve. Keeping students from learning, especially during these difficult times, is a terrible idea,” Czaporowski said.

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