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D.C. Council Mulls COVID Vaccine Mandate for Students, Expanding Virtual Learning: Report

The D.C. Council is working on emergency legislation that could mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all eligible students and give more of them the option for virtual learning.

The new legislation policy wouldn’t make the virtual option available across the board, but the qualifying standards would be relaxed “so that some of the circumstances that we’ve heard complaints about that are really hard to defend are addressed,” Council Chairman Phil Mendelson told WTOP Wednesday.

The first few weeks of the school year have been marked by confusion and frustration from parents over the D.C. Public Schools’ policy on testing and quarantining, as well as the lack of options for virtual classes.

DCPS currently allows remote learning for students whose doctors say it is necessary, though only a few hundred students fit that criteria, Mendelson told WTOP.

The council is also considering requiring vaccinations for students 12 and older in light of a mandate by Mayor Muriel Bowser for public school student-athletes, teachers, child care workers and staffers to get vaccinated.

Mendelson said the legislation is still being drafted. The council is scheduled to return from its recess for its first legislative meeting Tuesday.

Emergency legislation requires nine votes to pass but cannot have a cost attached to it. The mayor can block emergency bills, though the council can override her decision.

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