Phoenix Union schools to require vaccine or testing for sports, other activities

Sep 30, 2021, 12:15 PM | Updated: 12:19 pm
(Twitter Photo/@PhoenixUnion)...
(Twitter Photo/@PhoenixUnion)
(Twitter Photo/@PhoenixUnion)

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Union High School District on Thursday announced that students and staff who participate in sports or certain other extracurricular activities must soon provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or take weekly tests.

It’s just the latest aggressive move to combat the virus by the city’s largest school district.

“Requiring participants to be vaccinated or test weekly will help avoid COVID-shortened seasons and reduce spread during in-person learning when students return from their practices and competitions,” Superintendent Dr. Chad Gestson said in a press release.

The new measures go into effect Nov. 1 and will impact winter sports programs as well as participants in certain activities on a soon-to-be released list.

The district, which has more than 28,000 students, offers free COVID-19 vaccines and testing on all 22 campuses. Details are available online.

When the fall semester started, Phoenix Union was the first district in Arizona to defy the wishes of lawmakers and Gov. Doug Ducey and impose a face mask mandate.

The Republican-led Legislature passed a ban on the practice in June, and it was scheduled to go into effect this week. However, a judge struck it down Monday on the grounds it was unconstitutionally rolled into a state budget bill.

Earlier this month, Phoenix Union launched its Vax to the Max program, offering financial incentives for vaccinated students and staff. The initiative, which includes cash and gift cards, has been extended until Nov. 1. The original deadline was Oct. 11.

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Phoenix Union schools to require vaccine or testing for sports, other activities