The University of Virginia recently disenrolled 238 students because those students are not vaccinated. They will not be allowed on campus and are not able to enroll in any classes due to their vaccination status. The UVA President said that the vaccination of the student body ” will allow classes and events to continue as usual.”
Similarly, colleges and universities in Connecticut are mandating vaccines for all of their students due to the surge of the delta variant. Also, two major insurance companies in Hartford were planning to bring their employees back to their offices as of the beginning of September but now have told their employees to remain working from home due to the surge of the delta variant.
However, students in kindergarten through grade 12 in Connecticut are returning to in-class learning even though half of those students are too young to be vaccinated, and the delta variant is prevalent among young children. It doesn’t add up. Since working adults and college age adults are being protected from Covid-19, so too should unvaccinated students in our public and independent schools who are between 5 and 11 years old and, therefore, now ineligible for the vaccines.
We are putting our youngest school age population, unvaccinated children between 5 and 11 years of age, at risk.
More than 4.1 million children have been diagnosed with Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, accounting for 14.3 percent of all cases, according to the latest data from the American Academy of Pediatrics. From July 15 to July 29, that percentage rose to 19 percent of weekly reported cases. Because the delta variant is so contagious, the increase in cases clearly shows the virus’s potential in young children.
So what is the solution for this school year? We should do what the University of Virginia has done with their students who were not vaccinated: Keep those students from gathering in school buildings. We should protect those students who are between 5 and 11 years of age and have them participate in remote learning from home.
There is no way unvaccinated children can be safe congregating with other unvaccinated children. We should not wait for tragedy to strike and then move to remote learning for children 5-11 years old. Now is the time to be preventative and move to remote learning for children between 5 and 11 years of age. We should take as good care of our youngest students as the University of Virginia and Connecticut colleges and universities are taking of their young adult populations.
No one prefers remote learning to in-person learning, and plans will have to be formulated for those children who have no adult in the home during the school day. But this is the time for safety first. We must protect the defenseless, protect the children who do not have the defense provided by the vaccines.