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Chesapeake school board revisits student athlete testing, vaccine policy

Emotions were still running high over the decision to require weekly testing for unvaccinated winter student-athletes. However, the decision still stands

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Three school districts in Hampton Roads voted to require weekly testing or a COVID-19 vaccine for student-athletes: Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Suffolk.

But Monday night, Chesapeake had that topic back on the agenda.

On September 27th, The Chesapeake School Board decided that winter student-athletes will get COVID tested weekly unless they’re vaccinated.

Superintendent Jared Cotton says since the beginning of the school year, 28 student-athletes have tested positive for COVID-19.

But, emotions were still running high over the topic Monday night.

"Requiring any student to submit to this invasive testing on a weekly basis in order to enjoy the same rights and privileges as their vaccinated peers is discrimination and I think harassment," one parent told the board.

"I always make sure my teams are inclusive and loving and this new rule from administration is anything but inclusive," a Chesapeake coach said.

But others applauded the board's previous vote.

"I would also like to express my immense gratitude to the board for their unanimous vote regarding the student-athlete vaccination testing policy."

Chesapeake teacher Nicole Sperry, who lost her healthy 10-year-old daughter to COVID-19 just two weeks ago, also was grateful for the decision.

"Children are getting COVID and they are getting it at schools. We need to ensure that all protocols that you the as the school board are saying that we do are being done," she said. "Now more than ever, we need to do everything that we can to protect our children."

In the end, board member Christie Craig told the crowd she wanted to change her previous vote on the topic to “no,” but the policy still stands.

Weekly COIVD-19 testing will begin on November 15 for in-season high school athletes.

Cotton says their student quarantine numbers dropped from over 1,000 to just over 930 this past week.

Last week, Norfolk Public Schools announced they will require full vaccination or weekly COVID-19 tests beginning January 3.