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Press Release: Important Information About Immunization Compliance

For Immediate Release                                                      Contact: Bill Reinhard, 410-767-0486

Baltimore, MD (September 12, 2014)

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) is coordinating efforts with the Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) to provide additional time to meet the state’s immunization requirements for school entry and to address concerns related to the possible exclusion of many students who are not currently in compliance. Attached is a memo from DHMH regarding this situation and provides guidance regarding the current immunization concerns.

MSDE follows the school immunization requirements as set forth by DHMH in the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR), which includes new requirements for students entering Kindergarten and 7th grade. Current regulations require students to receive required immunizations for school attendance unless they have medical or religious exemptions. The regulations require the exclusion of students from school for noncompliance with immunization requirements.  MSDE recognizes the efforts by local school systems to work diligently to help students achieve immunization compliance so they will not be excluded from school.

Schools will have two options for coding absences. Offense Code-001 is an exclusionary code, not suspension, even though the results are the same in that the student cannot attend school.  The code indicates the parent/guardian failed to abide by the health regulations regarding immunization schedules, or failure to provide evidence of appropriate immunizations. The Division of Curriculum, Assessment, and Accountability provides a publication showing health exclusion separate from the suspensions in the publication entitled Suspensions, Expulsions, and Health Related Exclusions Maryland Public Schools. Absence code 17 indicates a lawful absence from school for any portion for the purpose of health exclusion.

As always, thank you for your assistance in this important work to keep all students healthy, safe, and ready to learn.

Attachment: DHMH letter to Dr. Lillian Lowery, State Superintendent of Schools

September 12, 2014

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