Maui Rally Seeks Medical Freedom for Keiki Athletes Amid New Vaccine Requirement
August 5, 2021, 8:55 AM HST
* Updated August 6, 11:18 AM
A sign waving rally was held this morning fronting the State Office Building in Wailuku, speaking out against the Department of Education’s announcement yesterday calling for all student athletes to be vaccinated. The rally drew more than 100 participants and was staged at the location which houses the district offices for the Department of Education, Maui Complex Areas.
The start of the fall athletic season has been postponed to Sept. 24 to allow athletes staff and volunteers time to be fully vaccinated. The Department of Education yesterday announced that vaccines will be required for participation in school-sanctioned athletic activities this school year. In the announcement, the HIDOE noted that students and adults may seek an exemption for religious or medical reasons, with the appropriate documentation, verified in writing by a licensed physician. If granted, the individual is allowed to participate in athletics but will be required to submit to twice-weekly COVID-19 tests.
Some of the signs at today’s rally read: “We have had enough,” “Delay tourism not MIL sports,” “Hawaiʻi stands for medical freedom,” “Make freedom legal again,” “Our keiki deserve medical freedom,” “No to forced VAXX,” “Save our keiki,” “Stop the oppression of our keiki,” and “Aʻohe to vaccine mandates. Our body; our choice. Protect our keiki.”
In the buildup to today’s rally a flurry of discussion had surfaced on various online platforms by those opposed to the new requirement calling it an “overstep of the right to choose,” while others expressed concern that it would open the door to vaccine requirements for other activities and groups.
In yesterday’s announcement state school interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi said “the decision was not made lightly.” He said the alternative was to cancel the season outright.
Meantime, a petition at Chaneg.org had garnered more than 1,800 signatures asking that the HIDOE reverse their course on yesterday’s announcement citing double standards for residents and visitors. The petition argued that residents and tourists face different rules saying: “Thousands of tourists arrive in Hawai’i every day to sleep in our hotels, go to our lū’au, and enjoy the Hawai’i lifestyle. While on the other hand, locals have been living stricter rules.”