Lack of vaccination OK for Norwin prom, but graduation unclear

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Nine Norwin High School students who were told they could not attend Friday's prom because they hadn't been vaccinated for chicken pox were able to attend, after all.

The district sent letters to parents and posted a notice on its website explaining that because a case of chicken pox had been confirmed among students, the state Health Department had told the school to exclude from classes and activities 33 students who had not had chicken pox or been vaccinated.

The letter also stated that the parents of nine students who had registered to attend the prom were notified that their children would not be able to go unless "they can provide immunization documentation."

But Kait Gillis, deputy press secretary of the Health Department, said prom exclusions were not necessary because the event didn't fall within the time frame specified to avoid contagion. The health department said students should be excluded eight to 21 days post-exposure to a person with chicken pox.

The school district, however, miscalculated the dates.

As a result, the nine students were contacted Friday morning and told they could attend their prom, after all.

Tracy McNelly, Norwin assistant superintendent of secondary education, said there was confusion about the waiting period.

The students identified for exclusion still could have a problem with graduation, which falls within the period spelled out by the health department.

A student can be readmitted to school if he or she has a blood test proving immunity to chicken pox or receives a chicken pox vaccine before or on Sunday, Ms. Gillis said.

Of the 33 students identified as not immunized, only 14 remain without immunization, school board Vice President Thomas Sturm said Friday afternoon.

Ms. Gillis said students are required to be immunized before enrolling unless he or she has a religious or medical reason.

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Jessica Tully: jtully@post-gazette.com First Published May 10, 2013 5:15 PM


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