The Gonzaga College High School enrollment contract, which all families sign, stipulates (among other related items) that Parents/Guardians "agree to comply with the School’s infectious and communicable disease policy and to follow and comply with instructions and other directions established by the School. Parents understand that this includes, but is not necessarily limited to, compliance with the School’s policy regarding required immunizations, vaccinations, testing for communicable diseases, as well as providing the School with required health records and other such documentation."
Gonzaga is requiring that all students receive the Covid-19 vaccination prior to the start of the school year. In addition, Gonzaga strongly encourages students to receive the 2021 influenza vaccine when it becomes available. This policy is consistent with our past vaccination requirements, and has been updated in light of the pandemic for the health and safety of our school community, but also to help ensure that Gonzaga can return to normal school operations -- including full in-person learning -- for the coming year.
Under Federal and DC law there are limited exemptions from vaccination: in the case of either an underlying medical condition that preclude a student from receiving the vaccine; or a sincerely-held religious belief -- consistent with doctrines of the faith background in which the family is actively participating -- that would result in vaccination being considered morally objectionable to practitioners of that faith.
In order to obtain a medical or religious exemption, families must proactively provide third-party documentation. In the case of a medical exemption, a letter from the student's physician verifying the medical condition that causes the need for the exemption and stating the need for an exemption is required. In the case of a religious exemption, a letter is needed from a religious leader of the family’s center of faith practice authenticating the family's active participation in that faith community, as well as a statement authenticating why the vaccine is inconsistent with that particular faith's established belief system. Please note that a request for a religious exemption may be granted at Gonzaga's sole discretion, based on the documentation provided.
Note that the Catholic faith does not find the Covid-19 vaccine morally objectionable. Rather -- as recent publications / statements from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
, the US Catholic Conference of Bishops
, and Washington Cardinal Wilton Gregory
have all reinforced -- receiving the vaccine is consistent with Catholic teaching around promotion of the common good and protection of vulnerable populations. Parents who are practicing Catholics with concerns about the vaccine are asked to consider these documents and contact the Headmaster if they have continuing concerns based on religious grounds.
Also, due to mask-wearing, social distancing, cohorting, and quarantining, the past year the school and the community overall experienced significantly fewer incidents of seasonal influenza. As a result, wide swaths of the population did not experience exposure or individual immunity to this season’s flu strains that would otherwise have occurred. Because of this, medical experts anticipate that the flu will be considerably worse in 2021-2022 than in recent years.
As a result, and again to provide the safest school setting reasonably possible, Gonzaga is strongly encouraging all faculty, staff and students to receive the flu vaccine during the 2021-2022 school year as soon as the vaccinations become available.