Has anyone had experience navigating the private preschool application/enrollment process with an unvaccinated child in the Chicago area? I am applying to private preschools right now in the city and a bit nervous on how to handle the vaccine issue. My son is not vaccinated and I have been turned away from one school because he was not vaccinated and now I'm worried about others. I am planning on going the religious exemption route, however I realize that private preschools don't need to accept them. Has anyone had any experience with preschools accepting/not accepting a religious exemption in Chicago? How did you handle this? How do you go through the application process--do you mention the vaccine issue up front? Wait until they are accepted? I'm really worried about this process. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
I lost SO MUCH SLEEP over this issue, so I feel your pain!! Here's what we did, for what it's worth. (And we're in the north suburbs, FYI - applied to Evanston and Glenview schools). We didn't say a WORD about it during the process. We got accepted. We paid the initial fees. A week or two before school started we had to submit a packet with forms including the state health forms. I turned it all in and held my breath and . . . nothing happened. I bet you anything they didn't even look at it.
As for the forms, our amazing doc was willing to state that the vax we don't do (most notably the MMR) are "contraindicated at this time." I also stressed forever about that - I knew he was awesome and never gave us any problems about vax stuff, but I wasn't sure what he would be willing to do with the forms. I didn't even have to ask - just gave him the forms and he did it. Love him so much.
In my opinion, I would definitely not say ANYTHING about it to the school in advance. They have absolutely no obligation to accept you (as private schools) - why raise a red flag before you even get in? As much as I'd love to make it a teaching moment and proselytize about why we do what we do, I decided shutting up was the best strategy.
Also, of course, Waldorf schools don't require any of this *$&% if you decide to go that route :)
Good luck, mama!!!
@mfoutris, thank you so much for your reply! Did you apply to private preschools or were they part of Evanston or Glenview school district? Did you submit an exemption letter with your forms? Also, do you mind me asking your who is your pediatrician? We have a wonderful pediatrician, but I'm not sure that he could write anything to dismiss all the vaccines :) Waldorf is actually one of the schools that we are applying. It seems to have a really nice play-based preschool. We are going to a meeting to learn more about the rest of the school this week :)
We applied only to private schools. We strongly considered Chicago Waldorf but decided not to go that route for a few reasons - but we did the parent/child class there and LOVED it. It's a great school (although $$$$$!!) We didn't do any exemption letter (it's not binding on a private school anyway) - just submitted the IL State Health Forms and crossed our fingers. Our pediatrician (who I'm sure a lot of people on this board use) is Dr. Robert Minkus. Love him so much. Although he's already incredibly busy and impossible to see so I probably shouldn't even tell you :)