71 Rochester students sent home after failing to present immunization paperwork

71 Rochester, Minnesota, students were sent home on Wednesday after they failed to present immunization paperwork.

The students were not allowed in classrooms and were kept in a safe, but segregated area while their parents, guardians or emergency contacts were notified to come get them. Each non-complaint student who arrived at school was sent home with a letter reiterating that he or she may not attend school until the required immunization or exemption documentation is submitted.

This came after the district announced on Tuesday that more than a hundred students who did not have their appropriate vaccination documentation could be removed from the Rochester Public School District on the March 1 deadline. The district set the deadline as per the requirements of the state immunization law.

As of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, 115 students still did not have their paperwork turned in.

The Minnesota statute prohibits students from attending school if they have not submitted a statement from a physician showing that they have received all required immunizations, or paperwork showing that an exemption applies. 

According to a statement, Rochester Schools has been asked whether the non-compliant students are concentrated in a particular school or a particular geographic area.  The district said that “non-compliant students attend schools across the District and are not concentrated in a particular school or a particular geographic area within the District.” 

If a parent, guardian or authorized representative was unable to pick up a student during the school day, the student was provided a lunch.

In its efforts to inform parents of the upcoming deadline, the District also used interpreters to connect with any parents who do not speak English as their primary language.

Rochester schools also wrote: “Although not specifically required by statute, the District has followed procedures that were carefully designed to strike a balance between protecting the student body and the staff by enforcing the immunization statute and protecting the general right that individual students have to an education. The District exists to educate students and has taken every reasonable measure to prevent students from missing school based on a failure to comply with the immunization statute.  It was the District’s sincere hope that all parents would comply with the law and avoid having their children miss any school."