To say the last year has been challenging would be an understatement. When the League School had to close in-person education in mid-March of 2020, we had no idea how long and how severe the pandemic would be. Fortunately, we now have light at the end of the tunnel – COVID-19 vaccinations of staff and students is underway!
League School Part of Phase I Vaccination Rollout
Because of our residential program, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts designated the League School as a congregate care setting. As a result, we are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Phase I of the state’s rollout. “This is an opportunity we don’t want to miss,” said Chief Operating Officer Cheryl White.
The school’s vaccination team – CEO Larry Sauer, Cheryl, Principal Patrick Fuller, Nurse Anne Maxon, and Nurse Jim Connolly – have been collaborating daily with the Department of Public Health (DPH), the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and maaps, the special education trade association, to stay on top of the implementation. “Details of the rollout, including which vaccine, where, how, and when, have changed daily,” said Cheryl. “Anne Maxon and Jim Connolly have been very valuable to the team’s effort in keeping the League School visible with these entities so we have the latest information and receive priority.”
Uptick in COVID-19 Cases
A concerted and coordinated effort by staff and families has kept COVID-19 cases low at the League School. To date, the school has averaged a 1% positive rate, much lower than the state’s January averages of 4.1%-8.9%. However, like the rest of the state, we had an uptick in positive cases after the holiday season. Some residential and day students have had to quarantine after any positive tests. “Vaccinating our staff and older students will be critical for containing the spread of the coronavirus,” said Cheryl. “DPH recently made the vaccine available to our students who are age 18 and over, which will help slow community spread of COVID-19.”
Vaccination Education Initiative
Educating staff and parents on the vaccine is a priority. The vaccination team pulled video content from Mayo Clinic, the Surgeon General, and the Centers for Disease Control on the vaccines’ efficacy and safety to help staff and parents make informed decisions. During the week of January 11, we met with staff three times each at a variety of times to show the videos and answer questions. We shared additional video resources during the week of January 18.
Parents received links to three of the videos, and administrators, clinicians, and nurses called parents to follow up. “The goal of our vaccination education efforts is to achieve 90% or higher vaccination rates in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our school, classrooms, the Town of Walpole, and the communities we live in,” said Cheryl. “It’s been a long 11 months, and we are grateful to start to see the potential light at the end of the tunnel.”