For a pdf version of the ARPS Update, please click here.
Para obtener una versión de la actualización de ARPS en español, haga clic aquí.
Para uma versão do ARPS Update em português, clique aqui.
As I have reported before, on September 9 the Amherst Board of Health voted to add the COVID-19 vaccine, using only vaccines that have received full approval from the FDA, to the list of immunizations students must take in order to attend school in the Amherst public schools. This requirement is immediate and applies to the current school year. Typically, our families are given until November 1 to either provide documentation of immunization compliance for their children or request a medical or religious exemption. After that deadline, students are excluded from school until their family reaches compliance.
This year we know that many families were not able to obtain vaccinations, or required boosters, for their children during the months when many medical facilities were closed for in-person visits due to the pandemic. As a result, our school nurses are working with a significant number of families who are still in the process of obtaining the required vaccines, which will now include the COVID-19 vaccine for many students. Because of this, November 1 would be difficult to meet for many families. Due to these unusual circumstances, the School Committee voted this week to approve the District’s recommendation to extend the exclusion date for this year to December 1, 2021 for compliance with all vaccination requirements, including COVID-19. This change will be for this school year only. Aligning the deadline for the COVID-19 with the other immunization requirements will streamline the process for our families and our school nurses.
For those students who are old enough to be required to have the COVID-19 vaccine, which is currently age 16 and older, and need assistance in obtaining it, we are partnering with Baystate Health to have a free mobile vaccination clinic on site at the schools. That age requirement may expand to 12 and older soon if the FDA gives full approval to the vaccine for that age group. Arrangements with Baystate are still underway, but we anticipate that the clinic(s) will take place in October. We will share information about accessing the clinic as soon as it becomes available.
For those who want more information about the COVID-19 vaccine or have questions related to COVID, the District is hosting another virtual information session with local physicians next Wednesday, October 6 at 8:00 p.m. The link to participate is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFcFZutrZgQ and more information is in the flyer included later in the newsletter.
Since sharing information about the Tik Tok challenge last week, I have received feedback from parents who have talked with their children about the issue. Thank you for taking time to address Tik Tok challenges because new ones come up continuously. It’s important to be vigilant in order to protect our students and the entire ARPS community.
Finally, I want to thank all of the members of the ARPS community who have shared their thoughts regarding the potential move of Amherst sixth grade students to Amherst Regional Middle School through our survey, public comment at Amherst School Committee meetings, or at the School Committee’s public hearings on the topic. The School Committee will be taking a vote on the issue at their meeting next Tuesday, October 5. Those who wish to attend can find the agenda and login information at https://go.boarddocs.com/ma/arps/Board.nsf/Public.