PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Student-athletes in the Philadelphia School District will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the school district announced Friday. Officials said any athletes participating in winter sports must show proof of vaccination by Saturday, Dec. 18, and spring sports, March 1, 2022.

The only exceptions will be for approved medical or religious reasons, according to the school district.

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The district says student-athletes will continue to be tested twice per week until they present proof of vaccination by the winter and spring deadlines. Students who fail to show proof of vaccination will be ruled ineligible.

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“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting the health and well-being of students and staff has been our top priority,” Superintendent Dr. William Hite said. “Requiring student-athletes to get fully vaccinated will reduce the need to quarantine teams, which will also prevent the cancelation of games, practices and potentially entire seasons.”

Winter sports include basketball, bowling, cheerleading, indoor track, swimming and wrestling. The spring sports are badminton, baseball, lacrosse, softball, tennis, track and field and volleyball

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There will be two hour-long information sessions held by the school district to answer questions or concerns regarding the vaccine requirement on Nov. 4 and Nov. 9, starting at 5 p.m.