GRPS: Vaccinations mean fewer interruptions for students

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — District leaders with Grand Rapids Public Schools are excited about the possibility of getting more students vaccinated after the FDA recommended Pfizer vaccine be made available for kids ages 5-11.

“I can’t wait,” said Kim Baron, director of health services for GRPS. “I think it’s going to be great for students.”

Baron said more vaccinated students will mean fewer interruptions in the classroom, especially in elementary schools where no students are currently eligible to get the shot.

“It’s either (students) themselves are out because they’ve been a close contact and they have to quarantine or they live with someone who has tested positive,” Baron said.

If the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signs off on Pfizer’s vaccine for kids, the rollout could begin as soon as next week.

“I just hope that a lot of people take advantage of it right away,” Baron said. “The sooner we can get most kids in that 5-11 age group vaccinated, the less interruptions they’ll have. And it impacts the rest of their life too: Not just education but extra-circulars and being able to visit with their loved ones.”

According to the Kent County Health Department, approximately 50% of eligible students in Kent County have received the vaccine. GRPS falls just below that mark, with a 42% vaccination rate among students 12 and older.

Baron hopes to see a higher vaccination rate for GRPS students across the board.

“I don’t think 42 is enough,” she said. “We need to get up closer to 70, 80, 90%.”

Officials with the Kent County Health Department say they will lift the mask mandate in schools starting 60 days after the COVID-19 vaccine is approved for kids five and older. The purpose of the 60-day window is to give kids time to get the vaccine and have it take effect.

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