Covid 19 has had a drastic effect on our lives over the past two years. This worldwide pandemic put many schools on hold, forcing students to learn online. Fortunately, we were able to get back on campus last year, with procedures in place to protect community members from getting or transmitting Covid. While the school has continued to require students to wear masks, getting vaccinated remains optional.
A new hope for normalcy was granted when the Covid Vaccine became available on December 11, 2020. Nearly a year later, 55% of Americans overall have been fully vaccinated, with state rates ranging from a high of 69.3% in Vermont, and a low of 41.2% in Wyoming. While approval of the vaccine was wonderful news for many Americans, others were clearly hesitant to comply.
To understand how the vaccine works, the FDA gave an updated explanation, “The vaccine teaches our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside our bodies.”
Additionally, BioNtech did a study on Covid vaccine candidates to determine the efficacy rate of the vaccine. In November, they conducted a case study where they had 43,000 volunteers. Scientists counted the number of people who developed Covid in the vaccinated group, then divided that number by the number of people who developed it in the placebo group (control group), and lastly, by subtracting that quotient from 1, they got the efficacy rate. The outcome of this study proved the efficacy rate of the vaccine was 95%.
To learn about the Lovett administration’s perspective on vaccination, we spoke to Upper School Head, Mr. Boswell. He said that while Lovett strongly encouraged students and faculty to be vaccinated, “Lovett has no plan to require the vaccine for students.”
The policy for faculty may soon be different. Though still under evaluation by the school, Mr. Boswell said that “it appears that the OSHA policy, which requires vaccination or weekly testing for school employees, will likely apply to Lovett. This is not finalized, nor is the exact timeline, but we have all of the infrastructure for testing and on-campus vaccine administration to move forward as soon as the call is made.”
But when it comes to students, Mr. Boswell said it is up to families to do their own research on the vaccine. He acknowledged that some parents thought Lovett might vaccinate their child without their consent, but he clearly stated that “Lovett requires parent permissions and presence if not over 18.” He informed us this was one side of the concerns while the other was about why Lovett’s vaccination rate is not higher.
One main difference between a vaccinated and an unvaccinated student is what would happen to them in a situation of a Covid outbreak. He told us that if you are vaccinated, there would be no need to quarantine.
He also encourages the Lovett community to be very careful when going out of town, or to any places where Covid is a risk.
We reached out to students to find out their attitudes about vaccines. Out of 111 Lovett students who responded to a survey, 6% replied saying they are not vaccinated, while 94% responded they were vaccinated. We compared these numbers to the weekly Lovett Covid report. As of September 16, 2021, 72% of the 9th grade, 66% of the 10th grade, 80% of the 11th grade, and 82% of the 12th grade are vaccinated. Eighty percent of Lovett’s faculty and staff are vaccinated. These numbers are being updated in each new Lovett newsletter.
Why have some Lovett students chosen to get vaccinated? In the survey, students said that they wanted to prevent themselves from giving or getting Covid. Others mentioned herd immunity, the concept that the more people who can get vaccinated, the fewer people there are who can spread the disease, especially to immuno-compromised people or those who cannot get the vaccine for health reasons.
On the other hand, those who said they did not get the Covid vaccine attributed their decision to media sources that convinced them otherwise, and other reasons.
Some were skeptical but then got on board. “I was hesitant at first,” one student said, “but as time went along I saw it was working.” This concern was not uncommon as many Americans showed a sense of doubt about a fully working vaccine coming out so quickly. He also said he felt as though getting the Covid vaccine would open doors for not having to wear masks anymore. Unfortunately, when the Delta variant made its appearance, it soon became clear masks would become mandated once again.
Another student said they tried to persuade skeptics “by saying that the vaccine is FDA approved. Although it wasn't fully approved until August year, the vaccine had been approved by an emergency use authorization (EUA).
Besides many students wanting to feel safe from getting Covid, they also wanted others to feel safe. “I wanted to see my grandma,” one student remarked. “She is my favorite person in the world.” Her grandma, who is currently in assisted living, was unable to receive visitors without Covid vaccinations. She went on to say that everyone in her life has the vaccine and getting the vaccine was at the top of her list.
It has been a challenging last few years for the Lovett Community. The vaccine is opening doors to go back to normalcy. Covid safety at Lovett is extremely important to keep students in the classroom. It was unfortunate to miss the experiences we could have had over the last year, and we would not want to see that continuing to happen in the future.
In spite of the controversy around the country that continues to surround vaccinations, if there’s one thing we can all agree on here in the Lovett community, and that is that we’re tired of wearing masks here and everywhere.
We wanted to know if there was a vaccination rate threshold for ending the mask policy.
Only time will tell if that controversy can be resolved enough that school policy can change. He said it depends on community spread, vaccine availability for students ages 12 and under, and on herd immunity. Without it, “Lovett campus still will have a mask mandate,” he said. “The higher that vaccination rate ticks up, the more likely we are to be unmasked.”