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SF School Board Updates Immunization Policy

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Students may be a few months into the school year, but that doesn’t mean policies that apply to the beginning of the year are being forgotten. Monday night, members of the Sioux Falls School Board amended the immunization policy in the district.

Immunizations are required for every student to have before or shortly after they start school in South Dakota, but what they needed wasn't clearly outlined in school policies. School board members said updating this policy with specified requirements makes them feel better about keeping the over 23,000 students in the district as safe and healthy as possible.

When students sit in classrooms, share books and school utensils, they are also sharing germs. On Monday, the Sioux Falls School Board took a step to ensure the district's students stay healthy and to prevent the spread of disease.
Sioux Falls School Board President Doug Morrison said, "In the case of immunizations, we wanted to tie in what was required at the state level."
The law in South Dakota requires students entering school or early childhood programs to present a certification showing they've been 'adequately immunized.’ That means that any new or transferring student needs to have at least four or more doses of diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus vaccines. One of those needs to be given at the age of four.

At least four doses of the poliovirus vaccine are also required.

Also on the list, are two doses of measles, mumps, and the rubella vaccine, along with one dose of the chicken pox vaccine. 

All of these immunizations are required by the Department of Health.

In the old policy, a list of these specific immunizations wasn't stated. Now that it is, Morrison said they don't have to worry about setting guidelines that they are experts about.

“They're (the school board) thinking well it should be these five and not these two and we are putting ourselves as experts when we're really not," Morrison said.

Morrison said it’s all about making sure students can take in all that the school year has to offer.
“If our kids aren't safe and healthy, it’s very hard for them to learn. So this is something we do our due diligence on and we take it very seriously,” said Morrison.

In this updated policy, there is also a section on alternative requirements for students getting immunizations. If a student's life would be in danger if they received a certain immunization that would require a statement from a doctor. A statement would have to also come from a parent or guardian if immunizations are against religious beliefs. A parent or guardian can also request that the local health department give the immunization because they don't have the means to pay for it.
If a child doesn't get the required immunizations, they may not be allowed to attend class.  
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