Rochester Schools to Dismiss 200 Students

Greta Morton, culture editor

Since the normalization of vaccines, there has been an ongoing debate between parents. Some parents choose to immunize their children to prevent fatal disease and illness, while others choose to opt out of these treatments due to fears such as the vaccines overwhelming their child’s immune system, the side effects of the shots, or that the injections will lead to autism. (Although the one study that portrayed a link between vaccines and the disorder was proven inaccurate.) However, schools have recently been taking a stand on this issue and started implementing more rigorous regulations.

According to The Star Tribune, the Rochester School District has recently announced that over 200 of their students will be asked to leave due to failure to meet their immunization regulations, a decision made by the school board due to the district’s above average amount of unvaccinated students. The district has been working since January to notify parents that their children must be vaccinated or provide proof of their exemption from the state requirement in order to attend school. Minnesota is one of 18 states to grant exemption due to personal beliefs. Students have been given until March 1 to provide all necessary information before being removed from their classes. Once they have been immunized, they will be permitted to begin attending school in the Rochester School District once again.

“The procedure utilized by the district in this situation was an attempt to strike a balance between enforcing the requirements of the statute and being mindful of the fact that the right to an education is a fundamental right in Minnesota. Preventing a student from enrolling in school is a serious issue. The district wanted to make sure it gave families ample opportunity to bring themselves into compliance before it prevented any students from attending school,” Rochester school officials said according to The Star Tribune.

One of the reasons behind this new decision is because remaining unvaccinated does not solely affect you; it can affect anyone around you. Babies in Canada are not immunized for measles-mumps-rubella-varicella until they are a year old, making them extremely susceptible to this fatal disease. Children with leukemia are more prone to catching diseases as well, even after being vaccinated. Being immunized would also decrease the spread of diseases to these kids. Schools are one of the top institutions for spreading illnesses among children, as shown earlier this year when Minnehaha Academy was closed because of a rapid spreading case of the Norovirus.

Over the next month, the Rochester School District will be working to make vaccines more accessible for students at clinics like the Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Clinic, and Olmsted Public Health. The districts says they are putting a lot of effort into connecting with families and offer any assistance. As of this month, the number of unvaccinated students in Rochester schools has begun to decline as more and more students are providing proof that they have met the immunization requirements.