ST. LOUIS – Approximately 60,000 children are enrolled in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the St. Louis Public School District. As medical professionals and health officials warn the new delta variant of COVID-19 is as transmissible among children as adults, it’s important to know what schools are doing to protect children from infection.
State law requires children “attending public, private, parochial or parish schools” to be immunized against common illnesses—diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, rubella, tetanus, and varicella—before attending school, barring a religious or medical exemption.
Children under 12 are not currently eligible for the COVID vaccine yet. And while both districts strongly encourage students to get the vaccine, a mandate is not in place.
In a statement from July 13, the archdiocese said “wearing masks…will be optional and at the discretion of each individual family.” A spokesperson confirmed Wednesday this policy has not changed but said schools and parishes should abide by mandates issued by the jurisdiction they’re in.
According to an SLPS spokesman, the St. Louis City Department of Health requires all staff (including those vaccinated) to be tested for COVID-19, with results received prior to students returning to school on Aug. 23, 2021.
The St. Louis Public School District is offering free vaccinations (COVID and other immunizations) for all eligible students this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Gateway Complex. The event is also providing dental, vision, and hearing screenings, as well as sports physicals. Parents can register or learn more at www.slps.org/safestart.