CESJDS holds vaccine clinics

Middle and Lower School partner with Safeway to administer COVID-19 shots for students age 5 to 11

Zara Ducker, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Shortly following the announcement that children ages five to 11 could be vaccinated, CESJDS held a vaccine clinic at the Lower School on Nov. 15 and Dec. 6. The clinic was sponsored by Safeway, who also sponsored the clinic in the spring for high school students. All students were invited including siblings of students who do not attend JDS and children of staff members.

At the end of October, the FDA gave the final approval for the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be given to children ages five to 11. 

“I was really happy when I heard that I would be eligible to get the vaccine because that meant that I would finally be able to do things again like go out to a movie and have sleepovers with my friends,” sixth-grader Layla Barret said.

With the broadened age of children eligible to get the vaccine, it is now expected that the whole school, except the nine children in Gurim, will be fully vaccinated by Jan. 31. 

“COVID really has been going up and down a lot, so I think it’s too soon for us to say for sure what will happen,” Upper School Nurse Heather Greenblum said. “But we have discussed things like, do we stop testing? Do we stop masking? Which things do we start to take away eventually?”

In the middle school, there is still a small segment of sixth graders who are 11 and were previously ineligible to get vaccinated. Because of this, the middle school has been extra cautious and prohibited students from eating inside. Greenblum explained that once everyone is vaccinated, she hopes that middle school will be able to eat inside again. 

“Overall, once everyone is vaccinated, it’s just safer,” Head of School Rabbi Mitch Malkus said. “I think the most significant thing that would change is that when you’re vaccinated, if you’re exposed to someone who has COVID, you wouldn’t need to quarantine.” 

Previously when there was a COVID-19 case in the Lower School, all students exposed had to quarantine for 10 days. However, because all Lower School students, except for those in Gurim, are now eligible and required to get vaccinated, they will no longer have to miss as many days of school if exposed to COVID-19. 

“I don’t think anyone’s ready to say that anything’s going to change for sure. I think it really matters what things look like on Jan. 31… How much COVID is there in our community? Are the rates continuing to go down? Or have they gone back up now that we’re inside and it’s winter?” Greenblum said. “Once we’re all vaccinated, we are hoping that we can absolutely go into things like no masking, but we’re not there yet.”

The latest COVID-19 variant, omicron, presents a new obstacle and adds an extra unknown about what policies can be changed or taken away. As this variant emerges, people might have to be extra cautious about their actions, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not.

Malkus explained that most JDS parents were excited for their children to get vaccinated and got it for their children elsewhere as soon as it was approved. Malkus expressed that there are a small number of families that are still a little hesitant to get their children vaccinated, but he hopes that the long deadline will give parents a little more time to decide and feel comfortable giving the vaccine to their children. 

Greenblum is also a mother and has three daughters at JDS, one of whom is in fifth grade and recently got vaccinated. 

“Having my child get vaccinated might protect the person they’re with, and it’s just our duty to  protect each other,” Greenblum said. “It’s not just about what you want for yourself, you’re also doing it for everybody else… Just one more person that’s vaccinated is how we’re going to keep everyone healthy and be able to move on from this, so everyone has to do their part.”