Carter Moyer '20
Community members are beginning to glimpse the light at the end of a tunnel as more people receive vaccinations against the coronavirus.
As immunization against COVID-19 continues across the United States, many hope that the pandemic will soon be in the past. According to the New York Times, Litchfield County has fully vaccinated over 30% of all residents, and nearly 70% of the county’s over-65 population. The school has partnered with Community Health Center Inc., a non-profit healthcare provider, to bring a mobile vaccination clinic to campus for students on April 26 and 27. Dr. Jared Zelman, medical director, says that the clinic will give the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is approved for patients 16 years and older. The school plans to organize a follow-up clinic on May 17 and 18 for students to receive their second dose.
Most faculty and staff have already been able to register to be vaccinated. According to Dr. Zelman, “Connecticut prioritized teachers to receive vaccines, and the system has worked well for most faculty.” The mobile clinic will give students minimal exposure outside of the school’s bubble, and address the logistical difficulties students face to get the vaccine. Dr. Zelman discourages students from making their own vaccination plans, as he believes the on-campus vaccination program is the safest way to immunize the school.
Planning for school life once most community members are vaccinated is well underway. Mr. Richard Davis, COVID coordinator and associate dean of faculty, said, “By summer, all of our student body will have access to the vaccine.” According to Mr. Davis, even if all community members receive immunizations, the school, “[will still be] beholden to contact tracing [according to] guidelines [from Connecticut’s Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)].” The school’s plan is not limited to immunization, as Mr. Davis says the school is trying “to maintain equity for those who are unable to get [immunized] for health reasons [or those under 16].” Since some of the Hotchkiss community will not be able to receive the vaccine due to age or pre-existing conditions, protocols such as masking and distancing are expected to stay in effect for at least the rest of this calendar year.
The school and the COVID steering committee have been working hard to ensure the entire campus can be vaccinated. Charlotte Hazelton ’22, who received the first dose of the vaccine off-campus, said, “It felt like a celebration of some sort…I feel really relieved to have the vaccine because it’s a step in the right direction and it makes me feel like things are going to get better!”
While many of the school’s plans are tentative, everyone working on vaccinations on campus is hopeful an end to the pandemic is in sight.