Schools Must Enroll Unaccompanied Immigrant Children without Vaccinations: Memo
Some Prince William residents have expressed concern over a Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) memo requiring that unaccompanied alien children be enrolled in school even without receiving immunization.
Written on July 25, and disseminated to all Virginia public school divisions, the memo states that children without citizenship, living on their own or with others in the community are considered homeless students if they have no fixed address or are staying in a temporary placement.
While most of the unaccompanied minors to have recently entered the country are being educated at private facilities paid for by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), this memo details how to process those students outside of that system.
What Does the Memo Say About Enrolling Unaccompanied Minors?
The memo includes this statement explaining that homeless children must be enrolled and that the school division must provide them with assistance in getting them the necessary immunizations.
School divisions must immediately enroll homeless students and coordinate the provision of services to homeless students with relevant local social services agencies and other agencies and programs providing services to such students, and with other school divisions. In addition, division superintendents cannot exclude from school attendance those homeless children who do not provide the requisite health or immunization information required of other students. School divisions must immediately refer the student to the school division liaison required to assist the student in obtaining necessary physical examinations or proof of completion of immunizations.
The Response from Prince William County Schools
Prince William County School Director of Communication Services Phil Kavits said the district is not seeing an increase in its immigrant population.
He explained that public schools are prohibited from tracking a child’s immigration status; thereby, “consequently, we have no number or estimate of registrants related to the recent increase in unaccompanied minors crossing the Border.”
However, he added that, “PWCS is not currently anticipating any significant new influx or recent immigrants, whether documents or undocumented.”
Kavits agreed to look into whether PWCS will provide any specific plans to ensure that students have or get the required immunizations when they start school. He explained that the immunization issues are something the school division routinely deals with for all students.