Due to the recent change in New York State Law eliminating non-medical exemptions, including the religious exemption, for vaccinations that was passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor on June 13, the Workshop Board looked for guidance from the state and county health departments on how the law applied to our summer program. If a student has a medical exemption, that is still valid, but all other students must provide proof of immunity or vaccination. The 2019 guidelines we received from the NYS Department of Health through Albany County Department of Health stated, with emphasis added, “vaccination of all individuals who will be working or attending summer camps is strongly recommended.” The guidelines further stated that “Individual camps may also choose to recommend or require specific immunizations of their campers and staff.” We did reach out to other summer programs and found that some are requiring vaccination and some are not, but all are required to keep vaccination records for all students.
The Board of Directors discussed how we should deal with the new requirements and voted unanimously on June 19th to require that all students, except those with a medical exemption, must provide evidence that they have received the first dose of required vaccines by July 12 (30 days after the law went into effect) or provide proof of immunity.
We did not take this issue lightly, realizing it would affect a number of our families who have in the past claimed a religious exemption, but we determined that in the best interest of all of our students we should adopt this requirement. For any family that does not want to start the vaccination process at this time the Workshop will fully refund registration fees or apply credit to future (including later this summer) registrations.