Winter sports coming back to Henrico schools with new testing requirement

Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 6:31 PM EDT
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Henrico students will once again play winter sports after the season was canceled in 2020, but there’s a new COVID requirement that some parents are not a fan of.

Starting next month, coaches and middle and high school athletes who are not vaccinated will be required to be tested weekly for COVID-19.

The school division says it’s an effort to ensure they stay ahead of asymptomatic cases and help prevent the spread around students.

Rachael Kulak, a parent who says while she’s excited to see sports come back, the sport her son plays does not have students coming into contact with one another.

“For my son, he swims, so he’s in chlorinated pool water, and studies have shown that COVID cannot survive there,” Kulak said.

HCPS says the mandate is necessary since all students will be playing in indoor environments for the season. Testing will be free with results within 24 hours.

Weekly testing will be conducted by a vendor partner of the Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance or ViSSTA. That program is a collaboration between the VHD Virginia school divisions.

The school division says they are working with their testing vendor to ensure testing does not impact instructional time and can be held at each school.

Students and coaches who are already vaccinated may participate in testing if they wish to do so.

Kulak says that because the only options are to be vaccinated, get tested weekly, or not play, she’s still unsure what her student will do.

“If the only option for us is to vaccinate, submit to weekly testing, or not participate, I don’t know what we’ll do,” Kulak said. “I feel that it is discriminatory because those people who have extreme cautions and concerns about it, their options can be not to participate. "

Winter sports begin again for high school students on Nov. 8. and then a week later for middle school students. While this is initially for winter sports, Henrico Schools say COVID testing may be implemented for other afterschool programs.

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