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Letter stating vaccines are required for McCallum High School athletes sent in error, district says

Austin ISD said the letter from the school's athletic trainer should be disregarded.

AUSTIN, Texas — A letter from a McCallum High School athletic trainer is causing some confusion for a few student-athletes and their families.

According to the letter, the trainer was requiring that athletes provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination prior to their participation in sports.

However, Austin ISD has since responded, stating that the trainer's message had not been vetted by district authorities and that it should be disregarded.

The trainer's letter reads:

Please encourage your athletes to get their vaccine as soon as they can. Vaccinations are open to ages 16 and up, and hopefully younger at some point this summer. Once the athlete has been fully vaccinated (after second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, first dose of J&J), please have the parents email me with a copy of their card. This will help me in determining who can continue to participate. The vaccinated athletes will not need to quarantine should there be close contact with another athlete on your team. If I do not have their card on file, they will have to provide proof before rejoining the camp, workout, practice, etc.

If any athletes have questions or concerns about the vaccine because they have gone down the internet rabbit hole, please send them to me and I will help walk them through the benefits.

Thanks for your help getting us back to normal!

Later in the day, the principal of McCallum High School sent a letter to families, clarifying that student-athletes do not need to show proof of vaccination before participating.

RELATED: VERIFY: Can private companies in Texas require customers to use a vaccine passport?

Here's a copy of the letter from the principal:

Dear McCallum Families, 

Please disregard the email sent earlier today regarding athletes and the COVID19 vaccination. Let me be clear – the district is not requiring students to be vaccinated in order to participate in athletics or on-campus learning. In addition, athletics is not asking families for proof of vaccination. I apologize for the confusion; the email sent earlier was not vetted by administration. 

At this time, the vaccine schedule from the Texas Department of State Health Services does not require the COVID-19 vaccine for students and staff in schools. We are also following updated guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Austin Public Health (APH), and University Interscholastic League (UIL) regarding vaccines and quarantine processes. We are continuing to follow these guidelines for quarantining based on COVID-19 vaccine status: 

• If an individual is 2 weeks out from being vaccinated and has close contact to a confirmed positive individual, they will not have to quarantine. 

• If an individual has not received a COVID-19 vaccine or is not 2 weeks out from their final dose, then they will have to quarantine if it has been determined that they were in close contact during the quarantine process. 

We will work with families individually to navigate the complexities of this time. Please reach out if you have any questions. I am here to help. 

Thank you, 

Nicole Griffith
Principal
McCallum High School

While private companies in Texas may require customers to use a vaccine passport, state agencies and state-funded groups may not require vaccines under the governor's order.

Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order filed in April “prohibits organizations receiving public funds from requiring consumers to provide documentation of vaccine status in order to receive any service or enter any place.” Public schools receive funds from the government and therefore are not able to require vaccination records.

KVUE reached out to other school districts in Central Texas, asking if any required students to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Wimberley ISD, Pflugerville ISD, Lake Travis ISD, Leander ISD, Hays CISD, Bastrop ISD, Round Rock ISD and Georgetown ISD responded. All said they did not require students to get vaccinated.

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