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D153 plans changes to its policy on student vaccinations

District 153 administrators say a concern for student safety and the proper care of children is leading them to recommend a policy change back to first day exclusion from school for those kindergarteners who are not properly vaccinated.

The board is expected to approve Superintendent Scott McAlister’s recommendation at its April 8 meeting.

Illinois law says all children in kindergarten and sixth grades need to have their health/vaccination records on file by Oct. 15. The state does allow districts to set their own date for parents to meet the mandate.  Two years ago, Homewood District 153 set an Oct. 1 date giving parents an extra six weeks to get their child’s health records on file.

“After reviewing this with our district administrators and school nurse (at Willow), we have real concerns regarding the safety of say 150 to 175 kindergarteners, many of whom we know have never been in our school and we know nothing about their health history,”  McAlister said. 

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It’s not only the vaccination records that are important, but without a health record on file staff doesn’t know if the student may has allergies, may be prone to seizures, etc., McAlister said, and that could lead to a bad situation.

Parents will have to provide health records by the first day of school, Aug. 21. McAlister said he advises parents not to wait until summer to make a doctor’s appointment for the health screening. 

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