The recent authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents ages 12 to 15 has introduced opportunities for young teens to feel a sense of normalcy in their lives again. Pfizer, the vaccine that is now available to those 12 and up, is believed to be 100% effective in those aged 12 to 15, and it is believed that vaccinating adolescents will accomplish what it takes to achieve nationwide herd immunity, according to CNBC.
So what does this news mean for CA? Now that every student in the community is eligible for a vaccine, will the rest of the school year look different? What about the upcoming academic year? Will vaccinations be required?
A recent email sent out to the community explained that for now, indoor COVID safety policies will remain the same due to the fact that the school year will have concluded by the time every student is able to be fully vaccinated. We have yet to hear about policies for next year, as information about the vaccine and mask policies are still developing. This leaves us with our last question, will vaccinations be required? Although nothing has been said to the community yet, looking at the policies of other schools in the area may provide some with insight to the possibilities for the upcoming school year.
To start, it is important to understand the history of required vaccinations and whether or not schools and states as a whole will have the authority to require everyone to receive the vaccine. According to the PBS Newshour article, “Can schools require COVID-19 vaccines for students 12 and up?,” after the smallpox epidemic arrived in Boston and some refused the vaccine, the state of Massachusetts was sued, leading to a Supreme Court trial. The trial determined that “a state can require vaccination in the interest of public health,” meaning that the COVID vaccine could become a school or state requirement, just as other vaccines are.
Furthermore, according to a WCVB article, titled “Massachusetts high schools offering COVID-19 vaccine to students,” which discussed high school requirements in Massachusetts, some superintendents, such as one in Quincy, do not feel it should be mandatory for students to be vaccinated. Governor Charlie Baker himself has said that he is “much happier pursuing incentive policies—making it more available and encouraging people to get it” rather than making it a policy. A quick search on the internet will lead you to the growing list of colleges and universities that are requiring students to be vaccinated—Massachusetts having a significantly longer list than many other states. So, while no laws have been passed making this a requirement, it seems as though schools do have the authority to require vaccinations, and we can only wonder what will happen at CA!