On Tuesday, Nov. 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, signed off on the recommendation that the Pfizer Covid Vaccine be available to children from ages five to eleven. How will this affect life at Pace? Head of School Fred Assaf was able to shed some light on this question.
The Pace administration is very excited about the vaccine being available for children ages five to eleven, and they will encourage families to get their children the vaccine. “We don’t at this point think that we will distribute it on campus, mostly because with little kids we are worried about them being scared of needles and shots, as opposed to the high schoolers and middle schoolers which we were not worried about,” said Mr. Assaf. “However, we are working right now to see if we can come up with ways that we can have preferred vendors, where we can send the kids or families to get the shots efficiently.”
Many students are eager to not have to wear masks at school anymore. On Nov. 8, Atlanta lifted the mask mandate. Nearby schools Lovett and Westminster have already made it known that they are lifting their mask mandates. Will Pace be next? Mr. Assaf explained that when the city lifts the mask mandate, “we will work together with our medical team to come up with an answer.” He went on to explain that “The most important thing to me is the confidence and safety of our faculty, and I think what I want more than anything is for our faculty to feel as if we have done everything to make it safe for them in accordance with the best medical advice, which is how we have handled this all along.” Now that the mask mandate has been lifted, it seems likely that we will be going to school without masks very soon; however, this cannot happen quite yet.
The most important next step in achieving the safest possible campus is as many people getting vaccinated as possible. “If people are not vaccinated and are already eligible, they should speak to their parents and their physician about getting vaccinated,” explained Mr. Assaf. “We would like to see as many people as possible vaccinated on campus because that reduces the risk for everyone.” Right now, Westminster students have better vaccine rates than those of Pace students. At Pace, 80% of high school students are vaccinated, and 86% of all seventh and eighth grade students are vaccinated. While these statistics are not bad, there is a lot of room for improvement, especially considering the high school students have had a longer time to get the vaccine, but they are still losing to the middle school.
It is unknown when campus life will return totally to normal, but the more people who get vaccinated, the sooner it will likely be.