Rochester schools ready to remove 200 students over vaccination requirements

Rochester Public Schools voted unanimously Tuesday to remove more than 200 students from school on March 1 if they fail to submit vaccination documents required by Minnesota state law.

The district says administration has made “significant efforts” to notify the families of 204 students of their non-compliance with the requirements of the state immunization law, including through letters dated Jan. 27, 2017 and Feb. 20, 2017. Read the resolution at

The district will allow any students removed from the district to return to school once they submit the necessary documentation.

“The District has been working diligently to connect with these families since January,” Heather Nessler, a spokesperson for Rochester Public Schools, said in a statement to Fox 9. “We will continue to work with the families so that they may obtain sufficient documentation for immunizations or an exemption to immunizations. Once the family submits sufficient documentation, the student(s) are able to return to RPS.”

Minnesota is one of many states that allow parents to object to childhood vaccinations for non-medical reasons. They're called "conscientious objectors.”

FOX 9 REPORT - Who are the conscientious objectors to vaccines?

Minnesota Department of Health director of infectious disease Kris Ehresman said with these groups of parents, research shows there's more whooping cough and more measles. According to Dr. Sonja Colianni, a pediatrician at HCMC, the benefits of vaccines far outweigh any possible risks.

“While I have seen several children harmed by vaccine-preventable diseases, I have never seen a negative vaccine reaction that would prevent me from giving them,” Colianni wrote.

Meanwhile, Nessler adds the district has tried to strike a balance between enforcing requirements of Minnesota Statute 121A.15, while remaining mindful of every student’s fundamental right to an education.

Nessler stands by the district’s intent to give families ample opportunity to bring themselves into compliance before preventing students from attending class.

The district is also working with doctors at the Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Public Health and Olmsted Medical Clinic to provide easy access to vaccines.
Once families submit sufficient documentation students will be allowed to go back to school.

Minnesota vaccine statistics and reports

School Immunization Data:
Childhood Immunization rates (by county):
Childhood Immunization Rates:
Adolescent Immunization Rates: