End to religious vaccination exemption impacting 10 students at Massena Central
Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - 5:20 pm

BY ANDY GARDNER
North Country This Week

MASSENA -- Ten students in the Massena Central School District who currently claim a religious exemption will either have to get vaccinated or be homeschooled.

Superintendent Pat Brady at the July 11 Board of Education meeting said this is in response to a new state law that ends the religious exemption.

"All families must have their students immunized in order to attend school," Brady said, adding that it is "in response to the outbreak of measles in the state and throughout the country."

The state still allows an exemption for students who can't be vaccinated for medical reasons, the superintendent said.

He said the students currently claiming the religious exemption come from about a half dozen families.

"One parent is considering home schooling their child," Brady said.

He added that the vaccines are required for summer school as well, but all students enrolled in summer school this year are immunized.

"We have sent letters out to all the parents impacted by this decision," Brady said. "It's now a decision they need to make."

"Do they get something showing it's a state law now ... or are they going to think the school's doing it?" Board of Education member Jason Premo asked.

Brady said the letter indicates that it's in response to Albany's decision.

There is a timeline the unvaccinated students will have to follow in order to be eligible to attend school for the 2019-2020 year and beyond.

"They have to have the first dose as soon as possible, and the deadline for obtaining the first dose ... is 14 days from the first day of school or enrollment in childcare. Within 30 days, they must at least show they've scheduled the appointment to continue the series," Brady said.

Board President Pat Bronchetti said the requirement goes beyond public schools and also applies to private and parochial schools.