IRWIN (KDKA/AP) – Nine students in a western Pennsylvania school district who were told they couldn’t attend their prom because they hadn’t been vaccinated for chickenpox were able to attend after all.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health notified the Norwin School District that a student had the highly contagious virus, prompting school officials to pull student immunization records. They said 33 students hadn’t had the vaccine and nine had registered for the prom.

But a health department representative said Friday that the district had miscalculated the dates. The nine were contacted Friday morning and told they could attend prom after all.

But the students identified for exclusion still could have a problem with graduation, which falls within the eight- to 21-day after exposure that students are to be excluded from classes and activities.

A student can be readmitted to school if he or she has a blood test proving immunity to chicken pox or received a chicken pox vaccine before or on Sunday, officials said.

Administrators are working on a plan to ensure that students who choose to remain excluded will be able to complete requirements for the school year, officials said.

The school district sent home a letter to parents Saturday to update them on the situation.

It reads in part:
“The District has a number of medically fragile children, some with life-threatening illnesses, who although they may be immunized against the chicken pox virus, are still highly susceptible to illness from such viruses or other diseases. The District cannot risk the health and well-being of these children or any child, no matter how small the risk. The District believes that any parent will understand and affirm the District’s position.

“Children who have not been immunized not only put themselves at risk for contracting the chicken pox virus and other communicable diseases, but also may be carriers of the virus and might infect other Norwin students who are medically fragile.

“Based on our concerns and obligations as noted above, the Norwin School District sought the advice of the Pennsylvania Department of Health regarding the most appropriate course of action to address this circumstance.”

Click here to read the full letter.

The Department of Health says on its website that parents may opt out of vaccinations for religious or medical reasons, but those students may be barred if there’s an outbreak.

School District Reverses Decision On Attending Prom Without Chickenpox Vaccine (5/10/13)
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