Vaccinations begin for kids 12-15 as districts prep for next-to-normal school year

Published: May. 13, 2021 at 10:30 PM CDT
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ST. PETER, Minn. (KEYC) — At St. Peter Public Schools, most students are back in the classroom every day.

They’re still wearing masks, social distancing, and quarantining upon exposure to COVID-19.

Now, staff and administrators are looking ahead to a fall that could look like normal, and are preparing to make up for lost time.

“If there’s anything we’ve learned this year, it’s how to pivot,” superintendent Bill Gronseth said. “We have many students who have excelled. We also have students who have not fared as well. And so we’re planning for academic support, for social and emotional support, to really help those kids to catch up.”

Pfizer vaccinations began Thursday for children ages 12-15 across the country. School districts like St. Peter say they’re making the shots as accessible as possible to students who want it.

The district is hosting a vaccine clinic in June, and providing parents with regular information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Minnesota Department of Health. But ultimately, they say, it’s up to parents.

“I think every family has to make their own decision on this based on that data that’s being shared,” Gronseth said.

Staff at Genesis Classical Academy in Winnebago agree.

“The school was founded on the premise that parents know best. They know their children better than anyone else. They’re fully qualified to make those medical decisions for their children. And we will not step into that role and say that they would have to do that,” headmaster Renee Doile explained.

The school utilized daily temperature checks, frequent handwashing and testing for symptomatic students all year. They say they were able to operate without a mask requirement and without social distancing without a single case of COVID-19 spread in the classroom.

“We think that what we did this year worked,” Doile added. “That you could be in close contact with other people, but you were conscientious about your health and about your hygiene.”

Now, school staffs are feeling excited to bring students what they think they need most: normalcy this fall.

“Everyone is just looking forward to that first day of school,” Gronseth stated. “That excitement when everybody is there, and hopefully not wearing masks, and we can not worry about how close or far apart we all are, or what direction we’re walking down each hallway, and just have that joyous celebration of everybody coming back together again.”

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