TOPEKA, (KSNT) — With the Pfizer vaccine fully approved by the FDA, some parents may be wondering whether schools will soon require coronavirus vaccinations for students and staff.
In Kansas, the potential of that happening for public K-12 schools and universities doesn’t seem likely at the moment.
A spokesperson for the State Board of Education told Kansas Capitol Bureau on Tuesday that they are “not aware of any districts having vaccine mandates at this time.”
The same goes for some higher education officials in the state. A representative for Pittsburg State University said the school has no current plans to change vaccine requirements, pointing to a bill passed earlier this year.
“The provision in the most recent Kansas budget bill signed by Governor Kelly banning vaccine passports prohibits Pitt State from enforcing a vaccine mandate on our campus. We will carefully watch this throughout the next legislative session, as we do believe in the effectiveness of vaccines in curbing the spread of the virus.”SPOKESPERSON, PITTSBURG STATE UNIVERSITY
The same goes for Kansas State University, whose spokesperson said the legislation passed in May prohibits the university from requiring students, faculty, and staff to get the coronavirus vaccine.
Other universities that have confirmed with Kansas Capitol Bureau that they have not made plans to require the vaccine, include Washburn University, Emporia State University, Wichita State University, and Fort Hays State University.
While some schools may not be changing requirements, there is a strong push to do what’s necessary to keep students safe, especially as cases increase and the highly contagious Delta variant spreads.
Marcus Baltzell, a spokesperson for the Kansas National Education Association, said it’s important for people to get vaccinated, and use proven safety measures to keep students and teachers in the classroom.
“Masking, social distancing, hygiene, all of those things work,” he said.
According to the CDC, as of Tuesday, 47.4 % of the state has been fully vaccinated.
This comes as hospitalizations are reaching new heights. Cindy Samuelson, a spokesperson for the Kansas Hospital Association, said “daily and weekly” reports are showing that hospitals are seeing an increasing amount of younger patients coming in.
“We are seeing an average age that’s younger than we’ve ever seen before, related to COVID patients,” she said.
State health officials and state leaders said there are concerns for students, especially those younger than 12, who aren’t currently eligible to get the vaccine. That’s why some public school advocates, like Baltzell, said it’s important for people who can get vaccinated, to get it now.
“We want everybody to pull together and to do everything they can, to avoid the individual impact to kids. That means kids can stay in classrooms, with their educators for the long-term.”