COVID-19 vaccination rates increase on campus

Natasha Speiss

The COVID-19 vaccination rate among students has risen from approximately 94% to 98% from the start of the school year to now, the Community Health Office said. All students who had only begun the process of getting vaccinated when the school year commenced have now completed their vaccinations.

The Community Health Office mandated that all students and employees receive a COVID-19 vaccination to attend in-person school. Exceptions were given to students who have documented medical reasons, sincerely held religious beliefs, age-related vaccine eligibility issues or were in the process of receiving both doses of the vaccine when the school year began.

Engelberg reflects on the high vaccination rate

Head of Communications and Strategic Initiatives Ari Engelberg ’89 said while the vaccination rate of students and employees may not reach 100%, he believes having the majority of community members fully vaccinated increases the sense of safety from catching the virus at school.

“[The high COVID-19 vaccination rate] means that the people on this campus are less likely to catch COVID-19 and that [the virus] is less likely to spread on this campus,” Engelberg said. “For the most part, it would have to be a breakthrough case [between vaccinated individuals] just to get onto campus. And while that’s obviously theoretically possible and has happened in the world, it’s not as likely as a spread.”

Engelberg said the emphasis on campus safety has created opportunities for more community events to take place, including those that occurred before the pandemic hit.

“We’re doing a lot of the kinds of events that we used to do before [COVID-19], but we’re doing them with masks on and we’re doing them with other safeguards in place,” Engelberg said. “There is overall a greater level of comfort with trying to do more and more to bring our community back to the way it was before.”

There is overall a greater level of comfort with trying to do more and more to bring our community back to the way it was before.

— Ari Engelberg

While Engelberg said there has only been one reported case of COVID-19 at the Upper School this school year, he said the Community Health Office is remaining vigilant by continuing to implement safety measures.

“We’re also running these programs like vaccine clinics and testing that are designed to try to keep everybody healthy and keep [COVID-19] off-campus in the first place,” Engelberg said. “Some of it is dealing with individual-specific situations, symptoms as they come up or exposures as they come up. People feel generally more comfortable knowing that everybody around them is vaccinated, because it just significantly reduces the likelihood that COVID is bouncing around the classroom.”

Students share opinions on campus safety protocols

Hope Hsieh ’23 said the community’s adherence to health and safety protocols has made her feel more comfortable when walking around the school.

“I don’t think there’s been a huge shift [in comfort overall because of the increase in the vaccination rate] on campus, but in terms of myself, I used to wear my mask outside, even though they didn’t force us to, because I just felt safer,” Hsieh said. “I feel more comfortable now knowing that the vaccination rate has become so high.”

Charley Zinn ’24 said she thinks people have grown too comfortable on campus, and as a result, have begun disregarding the essential safety protocols they deem unimportant.

“People are taking off their mask when they’re not supposed to and then getting in trouble [with teachers],” Zinn said. “I think some kids have gotten reprimanded on my bus because they’re all just so used to being unmasked and everything, but overall, it’s [now] a lot easier to be around people and feel safe on campus.”