Albany City Schools mandate vaccination for some fall sports

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ALBANY – On Friday night, the Albany City School District Board of Education did what no opponent has ever done. It threw the Albany High football team for a loss even before the season begins.

The game plan for fall sports in Falcon Land is now in flux after the unanimous vote to mandate student-athletes be fully vaccinated in order to compete in so called high risk sports such as football, volleyball, and cheerleading.

The mandate comes just four days before practice for fall sports is scheduled to begin.

"This rash decision was not thought through," said Carmen Corazzini, the father of two student athletes, during the public comment period of Friday’s special board meeting. "The vaccination still has not been approved by the FDA, and the decision has ripped hope from these kids who are willing to use football as their only chance at college. My heart breaks for these children."

Kate Carroll says her son has been looking forward to playing football all summer long.

"My son is fully vaccinated," Carroll states, "But with football you need a team, and if the team isn’t fully vaccinated, I don’t know how that’s going to go."

Ward Taylor DeWitt also thinks the board’s decision was rash.

"This vaccine is not even FDA approved," DeWitt reiterates, "so I don’t feel comfortable giving them to my son. We don’t know the long term affects."

School Board members say they’re listening to recommendations from the Albany County Department of Health, which is following CDC protocols, in the best interest of keeping children and the community safe.

"We are elected officials, but we have a responsibility for 9,000 children in this district," Vicki Smith, Vice President of the Board of Education points out, "We are going to do our best to make a decision to protect all of them."

"We know that we are in a community within our school where 80% of our school are people of color," Superintendent Dr. Kaweeda Adams stresses, "We know that people of color have a higher risk factor when it comes to Covid-19."

Beginning Monday, partially vaccinated students can take part in non-contact workouts. They also need to be tested regularly for Covid-19. But until students are fully vaccinated, no interscholastic sports are allowed.

According to the superintendent, 180 students have signed up for fall sports so far and as of Friday night only one-third of them have been vaccinated.