HONOLULU (KHON2) — The start of the fall sports season has been pushed back to Sept. 24 to allow for athletes, athletic staff and volunteers to get fully vaccinated, which is a requirement to participate in school-sanctioned sports activities.

The Department of Education announced the changes on Wednesday due to, the DOE said, the state’s high positivity rate.

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“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.”

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. 

Those who are not fully vaccinated by the required date will not be able to participate.

The DOE said that individuals may seek an exemption for religious or medical reasons. Guidance can be found on this Department of Health website.

If an exemption is granted, the individual will be required to get tested twice-weekly COVID-19 tests to participate in sports.

Prior to Wednesday’s mandate, nine vaccines were already required in order for students to attend a DOE high school. The COVID-19 vaccine is the tenth required vaccine for those wanting to partake in sports.

The other vaccines, which were already required before Wednesday’s mandate are as follows:

  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DTaP)
  • Hepatitis A (Hep A)
  • Hepatitis B (Hep B)
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Meningococcal Conjugate (MCV)
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
  • Polio (IPV)
  • Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap)
  • Varicella (chickenpox)