PHILADELPHIA - Students at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School have already begun classes this week and the school is reporting 100 percent of its teachers are vaccinated, but now the school is requiring the same of its students by Monday, Aug. 30.
Many parents reached out to FOX 29 outraged and upset.
"We’re being forced to take the shot that we’re still not comfortable with," said Tiffany Negron, a parent of a senior at Cristo Rey.
Negron and her husband say she and several dozen other parents received a letter in the mail from Cristo Rey detailing their new policy.
"This [past] Wednesday we received a letter stating that if our kids are not vaccinated by Monday, they have to leave the school," said Negron.
FOX 29 contacted the school and administrators say letters went out in June encouraging vaccinations ahead of the new school year, but the principal says due to the rise of the Delta variant, the recommendation turned into a requirement. The school says its policy changed on Aug. 11.
Parents say they feel as if they’re now left with no options for their children.
"What school can we apply for? All the deadlines are closed," said Season Starr, a parent of a senior at Cristo Rey.
Another parent says she wishes the school would offer alternatives instead of forcing them to make a quick decision.
"Even if I wanted to think about it, there’s no time to think about it. There’s no time for anything except just do what they said which is get my child vaccinated," said Shelley Alston, a grandparent of a student at Cristo Rey.
FOX29 reached out to Cristo Rey for comment and they released a statement that reads in part,
"Today, 100% of the faculty and staff are vaccinated and more than 75% of the student body has received at least one vaccine dose. We are proud of our vaccination rate today, but we know we must reach 100% fully-vaccinated, considering qualified exemptions, to mitigate risk and keep our students as safe as possible and in school." - Dr. Flannery O’Connor, Principal
The principal noted that if families arrive on Monday, Aug. 30 and decide they will vaccinate their child, they will still be allowed to attend classes. If students and families choose not to receive that first dose by then, school leaders say they won’t be allowed inside the building.