Education Matters: Vaccinations mean in-person learning is closer to reality

Education

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and people are on the move as for the first time COVID-19 vaccinations are making it possible for teens to gather with friends.

This fall those young people will be heading back to classrooms for in-person learning.

After a year of Zoom classrooms, no sports activities, not being able to gather with friends a lot of young people are ready to pull up their sleeves and get the shot.

“I would like to get back to as normal as soon as possible and I’m ready to go out and socialize and do things and everything be open again,” said student Cedric Coward.

Coward was one of many students who showed up at a vaccination clinic for those 16 and over at Central East High School.

David Castillo/ Student Central East High School

“I wanted to get vaccinated because of my Mom,” said student David Castillo. “She is immune-compromised and I want to protect her.”

They were accompanied by their parents who played a huge role in their students’ decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“He has seen the impact it has had in the community and we just discussed it and we agreed that when the shots were available for their age or for kids that he would also get it,” said parent Vanessa Gonzales.

Working with United Health Centers, Central Unified has held at least two vaccination clinics for its students.

“We were one of the first to come out and get our staff completely vaccinated,” said Superintendent of Central Unified School District Andy Alvarado. “We were one of the first to have an actual testing site here located on our campus and offer up our school sites.”

Although this clinic was for Central Unified students, Fresno County health officials say it represents how the effort to get more people vaccinated is changing.

“Our plan and our plan right now is to vaccinate where people gather, where families gather,” said health educator Leticia Berber. “Whether it be a park, water park, zoo, museum wherever we see families gather that is our target.”

Fresno County numbers show that almost 12,000 young people ages 10 to 19 have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Health officials say getting kids vaccinated is about protecting the adults around them: teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers.

“The vaccine is really the game changer and it’s making a difference in our schools,” said Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino. “It’s making a difference in schools. It’s making a difference in our numbers in the community – and we need to keep doing that, moving in that direction, so that when we hit August we want schools back to normal.”

So far, almost 10,000 young people under the age of 17 have been vaccinated in Fresno County.

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