As start of school looms, time is now to vaccinate students

Erin’s Edit

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By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

If they’re vaccinated, they’ll be able to stay in school. At least that’s the hope of St. Louis County officials, who kicked-off a back-to-school vaccination program last week. 

It doesn’t take much to recall how just a year ago school districts across the county were grappling with how to get students safely back into classrooms as COVID-19 case counts skyrocketed. And it doesn’t take much to remember March 2020, when school districts were forced to pivot to virtual learning to protect the health and safety of students, staff and the community. 

While districts found short-term solutions to get students back in-person –– like masks and alternating in-person days  – the long-term solution was always going to be an effective COVID-19 vaccine. 

The next few weeks are critical to get eligible students vaccinated against COVID-19 by taking advantage of the back-to-school vaccination program.  

No one wants a repeat of last year with unexpected quarantines and all the other challenges to in-person learning before we had a safe and effective vaccine. 

We all know the consequences of trying to teach students remotely. While some have embraced the virtual-learning option, it’s no secret that many students learn better in the classroom –– and getting them vaccinated can keep them in their seats and not quarantined at home. 

Several comments have been made criticizing masking policies for unvaccinated students, while also referring to the vaccine as an “experimental” drug.

Unfortunately, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Parents are free to not to vaccinate their children, but demanding that masks be made optional regardless of vaccination status selfishly puts the entire school community at risk. And not just health-wise. Suggesting that you’d be fine with students having to quarantine at home and participate in virtual learning to prevent masking or vaccines takes away the educational opportunities of other students who may be exposed and forced to quarantine. 

Children, young adults and their parents and guardians must take the initiative to help slow the spread of the pandemic and keep students in the classroom in-person. 

The clock is ticking before school starts in August. Now is the time to take advantage of the free, safe and effective vaccine and help keep our students in school.