GENEVA – Geneva District 304 middle and high school principals sent a message July 15 to parents asking if they are willing to have their children vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus – and that they should do it now, if they can, to ensure full immunity.
“The math is simple,” Geneva Middle School South Principal Terry Bleau’s email stated. “The more students who are vaccinated, the fewer students who will have to be quarantined if a positive case comes up at our school.”
Bleau’s email notes that this is the middle of July, and it takes six weeks for a child to be fully vaccinated if they get a first dose tomorrow.
“Every day that goes by is creating another school day in which your child has a chance to be excluded from school due to a close contact with a positive case,” Bleau’s email stated.
Geneva Middle School North Principal Brenna Westerhoff sent a similar email, stating, “If we have a school year that resembles school before Covid, we need your child to know that they will not be quarantined just because someone sat too close to them in class or on a bus.”
“I know some of you do not have a child over 12 yet, but this message holds for the whole year. It would help if you marked on your calendar today that you need to get your child a shot the day after their birthday when they turn 12,” Westerhoff’s email stated.
“I am sending this email asking that if your child has not been vaccinated yet and you are willing to have them receive the vaccine, please do not let another day go by without getting that first dose completed,” Bleau’s email stated. “In this case, I am not asking you to do this for the greater good. I am asking you to do this as soon as possible … for your child’s own good.”
To those whose children are not 12 yet, Bleau also asked parents to mark their calendars so their children can have the first shot the day after the day they turn 12.
“The only control you have over this situation is the capability to say you will make the appointment to get the shot or just walk into a location that is taking walk-ins,” Bleau’s email stated.
Geneva High School Prinicpal Tom Rogers’ email went so far as to provide a link to the Kane County Vax Hub for information and appointments.
“While we have not received definitive information regarding all the Covid protocols that may or may not be in place for the upcoming school year, there is one scenario we know to be true,” Rogers’ email stated. “Each time there is a positive case of Covid detected in our building, contact tracing will be required and we will have to quarantine some students for an extended period of time. However, based on the current Covid guidelines we know that a vaccinated student who is exposed to a positive case will not have to quarantine as long as they do not display symptoms of their own.”
One of the most challenging aspects of last school year was the number of students required to miss school due to no fault of their own, they just happened to be sitting next to a student who tested positive for COVID-19, Rogers’ email stated.
“Last year we had no choice but to send students home in that situation. This year, there is a choice. The more students who are vaccinated, the fewer students who will have to be quarantined if a positive case is identified,” Rogers’ email stated.
“In a little more than a month, we will be back at school, but it will take six weeks for your child to be fully vaccinated if they get the first dose tomorrow,” Rogers’ email stated. “It is certainly your choice, but I know how upsetting it was to receive the phone call last year indicating your child had to stay home from school and miss a significant portion of their athletic season or another extra-curricular activity.”
One parent, Stephanie Fellinger, stated in an email that she and others are “boiling mad” over middle school principals’ emails, which she characterized as principals “telling parents how to medically treat their children.”
“This letter is a threat to parents ‘vax your kids or else,’” Fellinger’s email stated. “We parents have rights. And we have had enough.”
Fellinger’s email stated that the Emergency Use Authorization injection – the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine – has “has not gone through proper testing channels (and) cannot be mandated.”
While it is true the vaccine cannot be mandated, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization for active immunization to prevent COVID-19 in those 12 years and older, according to its website, fda.gov.
The “COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone 12 years and older for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the United States,” according to the CDC vaccine page, cdc.gov/vaccines/covid.
The CDC’s Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines is available by visiting cdc.gov.