GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If your child goes to preschool through eighth grade at Grand Rapids Public Schools, check their bookbags and your email inbox for consent forms and other information about COVID-19 vaccine clinics.
Starting Monday, GRPS will begin offering the COVID-19 vaccination to students ages 5 through 11.
“There will be a first dose clinic in each of those buildings and we’ll come back through for those schools that we can catch before the winter break and do dose No. 2,” GRPS Director of Health Services Kim Baron said.
If a student’s three-week wait between doses runs up during winter break, the district will work with parents and Cherry Health, which is partnering with GRPS on the clinics, to get the second shot administered.
As of Wednesday, 336 GRPS students and 98 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 so far this school year. Forty-four cases of transmission have been transmitted in school settings. The district has had to shut down entire buildings twice as a result of COVID-19 outbreaks.
“These kids are interacting with each other all day long. Not only is (the vaccine) going to lessen the severity of the illness or prevent them from contracting the disease, but it’s also going to be able to keep them in school more. We won’t have as many kids that have to be out for quarantine,” Baron said.
Vaccinations are not mandatory. Baron realizes many parents will have questions on the vaccines.
“A lot of people just want more information, and we encourage them to reach out to their school nurses as well because they are a wealth of information,” Baron said.
The district is also reaching out for parents’ opinions on whether its mask mandate should continue beyond Jan. 2, when the county’s mask order will run out, or shift to a recommendation. Parents can weigh in on an online survey.
A decision on whether to continue the mandate will be announced before winter break.
“We do want to hear parents’ voice,” Baron said. “And we think it’s important for us to be making decisions to be guided by what their wished are.”