Hawaii Department of Education Delays Start of Sports; Requires Vaccinations for all in Sports

Hawaii Department of Education implements new safety guidelines with vaccination requirements for athletes, adults to participate in sports

Due to state’s high positivity rate, fall athletic season delayed until all student-athletes and adults working in athletics are vaccinated

​The Hawai‘i State Department of Education (HIDOE) today announced all student-athletes, athletic staff and volunteers will need to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 24, 2021 to participate in school-sanctioned athletic activities for the 2021-22 school year. Full vaccination is defined as two weeks after a second dose in a two-dose series or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine.

In the meantime, due to the state’s high positivity rate, the Department is delaying the start of the fall athletic season until Sept. 24 to allow for anyone unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated to get inoculated.

“We opened the new school year this week with in-person learning and our highest priority is to ensure all students can continue to attend school safely,” interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi said. “This decision was not made lightly because we know the important role athletics play in a well-rounded education, but we cannot jeopardize the health and safety of our students and communities. We saw over the weekend the impact that just one potential case can have on sports teams, students and families. The alternative is canceling the season outright, which we don’t want to have to do; so we are implementing this layered plan that prioritizes vaccinations as the best way to protect against and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.”

The vaccination requirement recognizes that participation in extracurricular athletic programs is a privilege and can increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19, which could negatively impact an individual’s health and education. It also recognizes the important role vaccinations play in protecting against and reducing the risk of disease transmission.

Students and staff who get an initial COVID vaccine dose by Aug. 20 can be fully vaccinated by the Sept. 24 deadline.

  • By Aug. 20, 2021, proof of full vaccination or administration of the first and/or second vaccination dose must be submitted to the school’s principal in order to initially qualify to participate in school-sanctioned athletic activities.
  • By Sept. 24, 2021, student-athletes and athletic staff and volunteers will be required to provide proof of full vaccination prior to participation in school-sanctioned athletic activities.
​Aug. 20 ​Sept. 10 ​Sept. 24
​First dose Second dose three weeks later​ ​Fully vaccinated two weeks after second dose

Timeline scenario for the Pfizer vaccine, which has emergency use authorization for adolescents 12 and older and requires two shots 21 days apart. (The Moderna vaccine is recommended for people aged 18 years and older, and requires two shots 28 days apart.)

Any individual who is not fully vaccinated by this date will not be allowed to participate in athletics.

Students and adults may seek exemption from COVID-19 vaccination requirements for religious or medical reasons, with the appropriate documentation. Medical exemptions must be verified in writing by a licensed physician. If an exemption is granted, the individual is allowed to participate in athletics but will be required to submit to twice-weekly COVID-19 tests.

Schools are sending a letter home today with details for parents.

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David Keech
Author: David Keech

David Keech is a math teacher in Wisconsin Rapids and public address announcer for Abbotsord High School. He officiates basketball, baseball, and softball in central Wisconsin. He has reported on amateur sports since 2011, known as 'KeechDaVoice.' David can be reached at [email protected]