Detroit schools: COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students 'likely' by next school year

Detroit public schools says it will likely implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for its students by the start of the next school year.

The district notified parents last week in a letter outlining the school's plans for the new year that before the 2022-23 school year started, students would be required to have a COVID-19 vaccine before their first class.

The district canceled classes for the first three days this week as Michigan's holiday surge of COVID-19 cases has pushed Detroit's infection rate and the state's case rate to their highest levels ever reported. 

Children age 5-11 are already cleared to receive reduced versions of the COVID-19 vaccine, following approval from the Food and Drug Administration in 2021. Currently, the department is considering booster shots from Pfizer for students age 12-15.

While accessibility to the vaccine has expanded, many states have yet to require them for students. Schools have already implemented vaccine mandates for staff in some cases, including Detroit. 

While experts have said it may be too soon to start codifying vaccine requirements for students, some states like California have already announced plans to add the vaccine to the list of mandated shots.

While often a source of heated debate, vaccine mandates have often stood up to scrutiny in the Supreme Court, which first ruled on the subject in 1922. Since then, only medical and religious exemptions have been used as a means to refuse the vaccine.