State’s high positivity rates delay start of fall high school sports

LIHU‘E — The Hawai‘i State Department of Education announced Wednesday that all student-athletes, athletic staff, and volunteers will need to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 24, 2021, to participate in school-sanctioned athletic activities for the 2021-2022 school year.

By definition, “fully vaccinated” means two weeks since the administration of the second dose of vaccine in a two-dose series, or two weeks following a single-dose vaccine.

The announcement also states that due to the state’s high positivity rate, the HIDOE is delaying the start of the fall athletic season until Sept. 24 to allow for anyone unvaccinated, or not fully vaccinated, to get inoculated.

“We opened the new school year this week with in-person learning, and our highest priority is to ensure all students can continue to attend school, safely,” Interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi said in a statement. “This decision was not made lightly because we know the important role athletics play in a well-rounded education. But, we cannot jeopardize the health and safety of our students and communities. We saw, over the weekend, the impact that just one potential case can have on sports teams, students, and families. The alternative is canceling the season outright, which we don’t want to have to do. We are implementing this layered plan that prioritizes vaccinations as the best way to protect against, and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.”

The announcement further recognizes that participation in extracurricular athletic programs is a privilege, and can increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19 that could negatively impact an individual’s health and education.

“This is an announcement by the HIDOE,” said Chris Chun, the executive director of the Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association, the governing body of high school sports in Hawai‘i. “My understanding is that all HIDOE schools will not be allowed to practice, and/or play athletic games until Sept. 24.”

Chun said he has called a meeting with the HHSAA Board on Friday to discuss the impact of the HIDOE announcement on the different leagues, including the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation, and state tournaments.

No comments were available from either the Kaua‘i Area Complex or the KIF at press time.

Using guidelines for the Pfizer vaccine that has emergency use authorizations for adolescents 12 years and older and requires two shots taken 21 days apart, and the Moderna vaccine that is recommended for people ages 18 years and old and requires two shots 28 days apart, students and staff who receive their initial COVID-19 vaccine dose by Aug. 20 can be fully vaccinated by the Sept. 24 deadline.

Any individual who is not fully vaccinated by the deadline will not be allowed to participate in athletics, the HIDOE release said.

Students and adults may seek exemption from COVID-19 vaccination requirements for religious and medical reasons with the appropriate documentation. Medical exemptions must be verified in writing by a licensed physician.

If an exemption is granted, the individual will be allowed to participate in athletics but will be required to submit to twice-weekly COVID-19 tests.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or

  1. RGLadder37 August 5, 2021 12:13 am Reply

    The ncaa mandates for vaccine is before the start of the first game of August 28. Sept. 24 is past this date. HHSAA will be following NCAA orders. Thanks for the info.

  2. Kylie Apilado August 5, 2021 8:41 am Reply

    Student athletes can sit next to unvaccinated classmates, be taught by unvaccinated teachers, be served lunch from unvaccinated workers, but cannot practice outdoors, cannot increase their overall health by doing strength and conditioning exercises, and cannot compete in extracurricular activities until all of their teammates and coaches get vaccinated. Something doesn’t make sense. The HIDOE administration has to get their heads out of their rears. Why cancel practices and games, but still have classes? Instead of canceling practices just mandate student athletes get vaccinated, until they do they can’t participate. What if the whole team and staff are fully vaccinated already? Why can’t they continue to practice? Because other teams would be afraid of the competetive advantage that the fully vaccinated team may gain. I don’t get it. Punish those who follow the rules, even if they do not want to get vaccinated, while catering to those who don’t. Don’t be suprised when the HIDOE cancels sports all together for another year. Why are we the only state that can’t figure it out? I guess we get what we vote for. Hope the adults in charge can come together and do what is best for our youth.

  3. Kali Yuga August 5, 2021 1:31 pm Reply

    What happened to natural immunity, which is even more effective than this low efficacy vaccine?

  4. WestsideResident August 5, 2021 2:25 pm Reply

    If the vaccines are effective, and you want to be protected, get vaccinated.

    Where is the problem?

    If you are afraid for your child’s health, and believe that vaccination works, then vaccinate them.

    Where is the problem?

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