Schools urge students to be vaccinated before the start of the academic year

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With school starting weeks away in some parts of the country, schools, school districts and some teacher unions are pressing for students to be vaccinated to ensure they are vaccinated against the spread of Covid-19 when classes are full again in the fall is opened.

63 percent of public schools were open full-time and face-to-face to all students through May, while 2 percent offered distance-only learning, according to data released Thursday by the Department of Education’s Department of Education.

Many districts plan to reopen in the fall for face-to-face teaching, although some will continue to offer distance learning.

“The time is now” for vaccinations, said Jim Blumenstock, senior vice president of Pandemic Response and Recovery for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “The school year is just around the corner, depending on [the] Part of the country. “

A year after the coronavirus pandemic, many schools are only partially open for fear they could boost the spread of the virus. Experts explain what the real risks are for the spread of Covid-19 in schools and how adequate controls can change that equation. Illustration: Preston Jessee for the Wall Street Journal

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday recommended that students, teachers and staff who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks indoors. It also urged schools to reopen in person while maintaining the 3 foot social distance and encouraging more families to get vaccinated.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s vaccine Inc.

and partner BioNTech SE for people aged 12 and over. So far, according to data from the CDC, around 65% of people 12 years and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 56% both.

Schools generally cannot require students to receive vaccines, although other agencies such as state lawmakers can. In light of these limitations, some school districts have run community campaigns and partnered with local health officials and clinics, as well as state and local governments, to increase the number of people 12 and older who are vaccinated.

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The Phoenix Union High School District, which ended the school year with two-thirds of its students still attending school from afar, partnered with local elementary school districts to host a pop-up vaccination event in 15 schools in June. They vaccinated 3,100 people, said the chief of staff of the Phoenix Union, Isela Rivas.

The district has also partnered with Lyft to provide free transportation for families to and from locations in Phoenix. They hosted another event on Friday and Saturday and plan to host another event in late July. District students have the option to return to school in person or remotely on August 2.

In a broader sense, the White House has partnered inner-city school districts with retail pharmacies to provide staff at pop-up vaccine clinics on school grounds, said Ray Hart, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of about 75 of the city’s largest school districts.

The Philadelphia School District has recruited students for the Philly Teen Vaxx campaign, which aims to educate families about the vaccine and provide accessible ways for them to get the vaccine. You have hosted 10 vaccination events so far, with at least 150 vaccinations given at each event.

Philadelphia Schools medical director Barbara Klock said setting up vaccination sites alone wasn’t enough. Raising families and gaining their trust is key to making families comfortable receiving them, she said. Students in the district have made nearly 40 TikTok videos promoting vaccination events and educating viewers about the vaccine. The efforts are partly aimed at counteracting misinformation about the vaccine.

The Philly Teen Vaxx Campaign hosted a vaccination and careers fair in Philadelphia last month.


Photo:

The Philadelphia School District

“The best way to get the message across is from other teenagers,” said Dr. Klock. The district plans to have all students return to school in person on August 31.

Not all are on board in the effort. More than 80 protesters appeared in May at a district vaccination event hosted by Ridgefield High School, Washington state, said Joe Vajgrt, communications manager for the Ridgefield School District. They alleged that the district was administering shots without parental consent and pressuring families to get the shots.

Mr. Vajgrt denied both allegations. “Our student council was motivated to hold an event, so our district supported the idea,” he said.

So far, the district has administered more than 500 vaccine doses.

The Chicago Teachers Union suggested last week that the school district develop a program with a goal of vaccinating 80% of students 12 years and older by October 1. The union called on the district to hold vaccination events in school buildings and coordinate home visits on the proposal.

Working with the Chicago Department of Public Health, the district will offer daytime vaccinations at three school locations every week through the end of summer starting Monday.

The district plans to continue hosting vaccination events at various locations, which according to a district announcement in early July have contributed to the more than 1,400 vaccinations since May.

“The power to do this in schools is that our schools remain within the local communities,” said Dr. Hard from the Great City Schools Council. “Our schools are comfortable places for our parents and the families in our communities.”

Write to Aydali Campa at [email protected]

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