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Loudoun County will require high school student-athletes to get vaccinated against the coronavirus

Loudoun County Public Schools will require high school students who participate in winter and spring sports to receive a coronavirus vaccine, school officials announced Tuesday.

The district follows Fairfax County schools in announcing a mandate for student-athletes.

The Loudoun vaccine mandate will go into effect on Nov. 8. By that date, all winter and spring sport student-athletes — and those taking part in out-of-season practices — must provide proof of vaccination.

Students who say they cannot get a vaccine for medical or religious reasons will have to provide school officials with a negative coronavirus test result once every week. They must also be tested before they return to play after possible exposure to the virus.

Students who refuse both the vaccine and the testing program will not be allowed to join school sports teams or take part in related activities, officials wrote in a news release.

Fairfax County Public Schools will require a coronavirus vaccine for high school student-athletes

“This vaccination requirement for our student-athletes demonstrates our commitment to the safety of everyone,” Loudoun Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler said in a statement. “While LCPS acknowledges this is a difficult decision for some families, it is a necessary step that we must take to limit disruptions to the learning environment . . . and remain in in-person learning and athletics.”

Loudoun’s vaccine mandate for students comes shortly after neighboring Fairfax County Public Schools adopted a near-identical mandate on Monday. The two districts are among a small handful of school systems nationwide to institute vaccine requirements for students, at a moment when vaccines are not yet available for children under 12.

Like districts across the country, Loudoun and Fairfax have both promised to hold five days a week of in-person instruction for the vast majority of their student bodies this academic year. Both have also adopted vaccine requirements for school employees.

Loudoun students participating in the district’s five fall sports — which include football, cheer, cross-country, volleyball and golf — are not subject to the vaccine requirement, school officials wrote in the news release.