MCPS to Allow Student Athletes to Request Religious Exemptions for COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement

by Patrick Herron
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On Friday, MCPS sent out a community messaging announcing that MCPS in now accepting religious exemptions to their COVID-19 vaccine requirement for student athletes. They cite the decreasing COVID-19 transmission rate as well as the high vaccination rate in Montgomery County as the reason for their decision.

Full message below:

Dear MCPS Community:
Thank you for your continued support of MCPS Athletics, as we navigate the ever-changing challenges and dynamics of COVID-19. Here are some important program updates and reminders:

Religious Exemptions – COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement
In alignment with CDC guidance, MCPS is now accepting requests for religious exemptions because of the decreasing COVID-19 community transmission rate, coupled with Montgomery County’s high vaccination rate. This updated process begins with the Spring 2022 season – registration is now open.

Religious and medical exemptions are submitted using MCPS Form 560-30A, which is also available in Spanish.
Spectator Restrictions

The number of ticketed spectators at contests in MCPS facilities remains at 50% of facility capacity. While capacity restrictions are in place, please note the following:
● Tickets will be made available through GoFan digital ticketing at 12:00 noon on game day. For games with anticipated larger crowds, tickets will be available to families of participating student-athletes first through a presale (time communicated between the participating schools). A maximum of four tickets per transaction will be allowed.
● MCPS and MPSSAA passes, season tickets, and MCPS staff admission will be honored.
● Spectators and school operations will align with the Winter 2021–22 Spectator and Game-Day Guidelines.
● For non-MCPS facilities, operations will comply with the procedures and protocols of the host facility and/or jurisdiction.
● For swimming and diving meets, attendance will be limited to two spectators per student-athlete, if facilities allow.
● There are no capacity limitations for outdoor competitions.
● Gymnasium events will continue to be streamed through the NFHS Network.

Spring Registration

Registration for high school spring sports and out-of-season conditioning is open through ParentVue! The first day of the spring sports season is Tuesday, March 1. Only students who have completed the registration process, which includes submitting verification of vaccination or exemption, and meet all other eligibility requirements, will be eligible to tryout and participate.

Overnight Travel
All overnight travel is canceled through February 17. Overnight trips may resume beginning February 18.

Winter Postseason

The winter postseason continues this week – the schedule is here! More detailed information regarding postseason events can be found on the MCPS and MPSSAA websites. Updates will be provided on an ongoing basis.

NFHS Network
Contests in stadiums and main gymnasiums will continue to be broadcast live on the NFHS Network. Parents and fans can subscribe to the network and have access to all games for a monthly subscription of $10.99/month (or yearly pass for $69.99/year). All games are free after 72 hours. Information regarding programming is provided by local schools.

Middle School Athletics

Middle school basketball schedules are available here. Any potential rescheduling of middle school contests impacted by COVID-19 will continue to be coordinated through league coordinators and the Athletics Unit.
Registration for middle school spring sports (boys’ and girls’ soccer) will open through ParentVue on Monday, February 14, 2022. The first day of the spring sports season is Tuesday, March 8. Only students who have completed the registration process, which includes submitting verification of vaccination or exemption, and meet all other eligibility requirements, will be eligible to tryout and participate.

Return to R.A.I.S.E. Plan Operations
The Return to R.A.I.S.E. Plan will continue to drive program operations in regard to COVID-19 procedures and protocols. The plan is reviewed on an ongoing basis by the COVID-19 Task Force for MCPS Athletics. The latest version is always available on the COVID-19 Athletics Information webpage.
Communication and Resources

Our COVID-19 Task Force for MCPS Athletics will continue to evaluate and implement the latest safety measures. Updates and guidance from the Task Force will continue to be provided and are available on the COVID-19 Athletics Information webpage. Specific questions should be directed to your school’s athletics specialist (AD), athletic coordinator (AC), or coach.

We appreciate your continued commitment and support of our student-athletes and MCPS Athletics!
Montgomery County Public Schools

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