Student Banned From School Appeals Judge Ruling During Chickenpox Outbreak

April 4, 2019 Updated: April 4, 2019

A Kentucky student who sued the health department for their decision to temporarily ban unvaccinated students from school and sporting events during a chickenpox outbreak has spoken out after a judge ruled against him on April 2.

Jerome Kunkel, 18, a student at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Assumption Academy, brought a lawsuit against the Northern Kentucky Health Department after he was not permitted to play basketball at school because he had not received the Varicella Virus vaccination, reported Fox 19.

The attorney for Jerome Kunkel, the NKY Catholic student who sued the health department for their decision not to let he and other unvaccinated children attend school or participate in sporting events during a chicken pox outbreak is speaking. Tuesday, a judge ruled against the student.READ MORE >>

Posted by FOX19 on Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Kunkel said that getting the vaccine goes against his religious beliefs because he believes the vaccine is derived from aborted fetal cells, something he learned after reading a 2005 Vatican statement. But this has been challenged by some organizations.

The health department announced its decision to ban students at the academy for 21 days from attending school as well as cancel school events and extracurricular activities involving other schools or the public on March 14. The school is experiencing an outbreak of 32 cases of chickenpox, according to a department statement. The ban started after the “onset of rash for the last ill student or staff member.”

Kunkel, who is a senior at the school, said he has not been attending school since March 15, reported the news station.

Kunkel and his attorney lamented that they didn't find the ruling to keep unvaccinated kids out of school during a chicken pox outbreak to be logical.

Posted by FOX19 on Wednesday, April 3, 2019

On April 2, a judge ruled in favor of the Northern Kentucky Health Department. The judge rejected many of the 18-year-old’s claims and said that one of his parents had signed a form that permits him from receiving vaccines on religious grounds but also bars him from going to school if there is an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease, reported CNN-wire.

Kunkel and his lawyer Chris Wiest told Fox 19 they are planning to appeal the judge’s decision, as they believe it was unfair that the burden of proof was on Kunkel instead of the health department.

“I’m definitely devastated by the judge’s ruling. It doesn’t seem logical to me,” the 18-year-old student said.

“What the health department put in play isn’t stopping the spread of chicken pox. We’re still going to church together, we’re still doing everything together. After Sunday masses we normally get together and play a game of pickup basketball with other school kids,” he added.

Wiest said he believes the return-to-school date for unvaccinated students will be pushed back to three weeks from April 2 now because of new cases—a time period, which he says would impact whether Kunkel would be able to graduate in the spring. Kunkel, however, is still completing his school work and tests by dropping off and picking up homework from school and attending teacher’s houses to complete tests.

The school has not commented on whether the temporary ban would affect the students’ graduation, reported the news station.

Moreover, Kunkel said the ban has also affected his chances of being scouted to play basketball in college, as he wasn’t able to participate in the all-star game for his high school.

“My other cousin, who was voted into the all-star, just went down to practice at a college down there because he was scouted at that playoff game … and I haven’t been able to do that,” Kunkel said.

In response to the court’s ruling, the health department said it was pleased. It said in a statement, “The Court’s ruling … underscores the critical need for Public Health Departments to preserve the safety of the entire community.”

A kindergartner who can't have the chickenpox vaccine because she has an infant sister is being kept out of her Staten Island school, her family says.MORE:

Posted by NBC New York on Monday, April 8, 2013

In a similar case in 2013, a 5-year-old girl was banned from attending school because she had not been vaccinated against chickenpox—something she couldn’t get based on health advice from her doctor. The doctor was concerned that the live virus in the vaccine would endanger the life of the girl’s baby sister, who may have inherited her mother’s immunodeficiency disease, reported NBC News.

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