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The Aquilian

    The impact of the COVID-19 vaccine on schools

    The+hybird+model+requires+students+to+wear+masks+and+social+distance%2C+as+seen+in+the+photo.+%28Photo+from+https%3A%2F%2Fwww.gonzaga.org%2Freturn-to-eye-street-plan%23%29+
    The hybird model requires students to wear masks and social distance, as seen in the photo. (Photo from https://www.gonzaga.org/return-to-eye-street-plan#)

    The recent push to vaccinate frontline essential workers, including teachers at Gonzaga, gives hope to institutions around the country that currently have their doors closed. According to the CDC, re-opening schools for in-person learning is not the outlandish idea it was a few months ago. Though the organization does not have the jurisdiction to directly reinstate schools, their recommendations provide confidence that with proper precautions, COVID-19 will cease to hinder student life and learning. 

    Unlike many schools, Gonzaga has had some in-person components for most of the school year. Here at Gonzaga, classes in previous school years were taught on an eight-period schedule with a rotating long period prior to the pandemic. In January of 2020, the school underwent a week-long experimental block schedule before reverting back to the original. However, the 2020-21 school year saw the implementation of a block schedule, where the eight periods were extended and split up into two days; classes began completely online. Introduced soon after, the hybrid model alphabetically separated students into three different groups and became the way students received their education. Every day, a different third of students were given the option to attend class on campus while the rest learned online. 

    The CDC’s recommendations surrounding reopening schools for next school year is partially based on whether teacher vaccinations go as planned for teachers and students who are eligible. 

    Headmaster Mr. Tom Every said, “I think about 50% [of teachers] have started the [dosage] course.” 

    Mr. Every said most of the teachers do not oppose the vaccine in any way. 

    “I would say there was 99 percent [teacher approval for the vaccine]; I just haven’t talked to everybody first, but all teachers want to take the next step,” Mr. Every said.  

    These vaccines are a huge progression toward Gonzaga returning to a more normal schedule, for the vaccines significantly lower the risk of any contamination or spread of the virus. 

    As for next year, Mr. Every hopes that “[school is] more face-to-face; it would be great if we were back 100 percent.” 

    Mr. Every did acknowledge that due to the virus’s unpredictability, it is difficult to foresee the effects and what next year may look like exactly. 

    “Even without any vaccine, [Gonzaga] has had very low transmission rates, which is promising,” said Mrs. Amy Harper, school nurse.

    Two types of COVID-19 vaccines are largely available right now, the Pfizter-BioNTech vaccine and Moderna vaccine. The Pfizter-BioNTech vaccine is recommended to people ages 16 and above and Moderna is recommended to legal adults. According to a timeline provided by the Rhode Island Department of Health, first dose offerings to 16-39 year-olds will begin in early June, meaning most of the student population will not likely be able to get the vaccine until the summer. However, around half of the students at Gonzaga are not of age to receive the doses of the current vaccines, adding to the number of students who will be unvaccinated. Because some students will be unable to get vaccinated means that wearing a mask, socially distancing and following protocol will be just as important as it was when the pandemic began.

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    • P

      Pam ValeirasFeb 23, 2021 at 12:57 pm

      Great article. Very informative. Good use of quotes too.

      Reply
    • L

      Leslie KeiserFeb 19, 2021 at 3:56 pm

      Thank you for an informative and hopeful piece.

      Reply