Roaring Fork School District begins planning for optional COVID-19 vaccines for students
The Roaring Fork School District announced plans at Wednesday’s school board meeting to provide COVID-19 vaccine clinics for students by the end of the school year.
With help from Mountain Family Health and Public Health departments, RFSD hopes to streamline the process of getting vaccinated for its students. As of right now, Pfizer is the only vaccine eligible for individuals as young as 16 years old. Rob Stein, Superintendent at RFSD, said right now about 1,300 students meet the age requirement and would be eligible for the vaccine if they chose to get it.
“This will be a personal choice, if they’re under 18 it will be a choice they make with their parents. And their parents, if they’re under 18, will need to sign a form to allow them to be vaccinated,” Stein said.
There is also the possibility that once students are vaccinated they won’t have to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19. This is currently the standard for faculty within RFSD, but Stein said that is a decision the district will make after consulting local health authorities.
“That’s one of our goals is to have fewer kids missing school because of vaccinations, and that’s one of the big advantages to getting a lot of students vaccinated,” Stein said. “We like to take things in steps and take them cautiously, and not over promise.”
School Board president Natalie Torres said she hasn’t heard anything about making the COVID-19 vaccine a requirement for students. She said the current goal of the district is to help their student population that qualifies to make appointments easily and through the school.
“We’re right now in the position of offering it as a service and making sure we give people that want it the access to get it,” Torres said.
Stein had also mentioned that depending on vaccine availability and the district’s ability to distribute them, parents of students may also make use of the clinics. The tentative dates are for the first dose to be administered at the end of April or very early May, and then the second dose is given three weeks afterward. Torres added that whether students get vaccinated or not, the majority of COVID-19 safety guidelines will stay in place.
“We’ll want to maintain our stance that whether you’re vaccinated or not we’re still maintaining the wear your mask protocols, social distancing, maintaining that it’s still our best efforts to keep everyone safe,” Torres said.
As information surrounding the vaccines grows and the Centers for Disease Control continues to lessen restrictions for vaccinated individuals, Stein said the district will want to keep tabs on those announcements and how they affect safety standards in schools before the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
“We’ll have a chance to reset for the fall and a lot might change, including the age restrictions on vaccinations. … We won’t make changes … this spring based on students being vaccinated at school,” Stein said.
Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Grace Wesseling is an animal lover, a cheerleader of seven years and another soon-to-be graduate of Bridges High School, class of 2021.