Families who haven't gotten around to getting their children fully vaccinated yet got a short reprieve from the state Department of Health.
The department gave a two-week extension to school districts on the date students are allowed to be in school without all their vaccines.
Each district had set its own dates - most were eight months from the first day of school - meaning that in the past week, some schools had started to exclude a handful of students who weren't in compliance.
The state decided to give each district eight months to get all of their students up to date with required vaccinations or face removing those children until they are compliant. Now those students who had been excluded can come back to school, but absolutely must get the vaccines from a family doctor, free clinic or elsewhere before the two-week extension is over, said department spokeswoman Christine Cronkright.
Cronkright said the extension was given because districts statewide said they still had some students who hadn't gotten the vaccines, which are targeted for diseases such as mumps, chicken pox, diphtheria, polio and pertussis.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in particular has spread at a high rate this year, Cronkright said, adding to the need for the vaccine.
Local districts: Several school officials at districts that already had their deadline in the past week said they had to exclude children.
Dallastown had a dozen students who didn't meet the guidelines when their deadline hit last Thursday.
"It's been a challenge," said middle school principal Josh Doll, who has helped coordinate the vaccination effort.
Still, a dozen students - with many of them expected to get vaccinated by this week - is still much better than it was in October, he said.
"We had 400-plus" without proper vaccinations, Doll said.
Northeastern Assistant Superintendent Stacey Sidle said her district starting excluding students last Wednesday, when 17 students weren't in compliance. The Northeastern district had 349 who weren't in compliance as of March, so it's been major progress.
Like Dallastown, Northeastern had been sending a steady stream of letters and phone calls to families. With the new deadline, Northeastern students will now have until May 14 to comply.
"We're a school. The last thing we want to do is exclude students," Sidle said.
Parent whose children don't have all the required vaccinations should speak with the school nurse or the state Department of Health if they need to find a vaccination site.
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