Families choose homeschool over vaccination: "I would not go against the Lord"

Berkeley Brean
Created: September 06, 2019 06:57 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — News10NBC is investigating the impact of the state law that says every child in school, medically eligible, has to have the measles vaccine. The state legislature got rid of the religious exemption in June.

Now we're finding parents are keeping their kids home and homeschooling them, something they've never done before.


It's been a different back to school week for 12-year-old William Guido. Not only is he living in a hotel in Henrietta while his home in Perinton is renovated, for the first time in his life he's getting homeschooled. 

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "Do you miss school?"

William Guido, homeschooled because of vaccine law: "Oh definitely, yes. I miss my school because, like my mom said, everything is very close. It's almost like family."

William's family is devoutly Christian and does not get him vaccinated. When the state repealed the religious exemption, his parents pulled him out of Destiny Christian School in Brighton. 

Brean: "Since June, did you ever consider getting William vaccinated so that he could stay in school?"

Marguerite Hoyt, homeschooling her son: "Absolutely not. That was never a consideration. I understand what the Lord meant for William, it is not to vaccinate. I would not go against the Lord. Our faith in Jesus is the center of our life."

The New York Association of Christian Schools says enrollment is down about 10% in its 40 schools since the vaccination law.

When the law was debated in June, News10NBC went to Cornerstone Christian Academy in Brockport. Today principal Chris Johnson says he lost 20% of his students.

"I try never to equate students with money but in reality that's tuitions that are lost," Johnson said. "So 20% of our budget is significant."

Doctor Elizabeth Murray is a pediatrician and an advocate for vaccination. 

Brean: "Families are choosing not to vaccinate and they're homeschooling their kids."

Dr. Elizabeth Murray, Pediatrician: "And that is their personal choice, but we know from an overall safety to society and safety to public health standpoint, we need people to be vaccinated if they're going to be attending public schools or mainstream schools."

William's mother, Margueite Hoyt, is one of 55 parents suing the state to bring back the religious exemption. Until that happens, she's keeping her son out of school. 

Brean: "That effectively means he could be homeschooled through high school."

Marguerite Hoyt: "Well, certainly for this year if there's not a turnaround. We do not plan on staying in a state that does not recognize our religious freedoms and that discriminates against our son."

Forty-five states still have the religious exemption, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont. 

When the law changed, the vaccination rates in our local public schools was more than 99 percent. 

News10NBC contacted the major catholic high schools. Only McQuaid said it lost students since June and the number is two. 

Click here to see how many children are homeschooled in New York State and find the number for your district.

Click here to find the vaccinate rate in your school as of June 13, 2019.

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