Dana Hall chooses not to mandate Covid vaccine

Dana Hall is encouraging students to get vaccinated, as well as hosting free vaccination clinics for students, but the School does not have a vaccine mandate for the 2021-2022 school year.

Pia Manna, the Director of Health Services, explained that, “We live in an area with a high vaccination rate, and the accessibility to the vaccine is also easy within our area, so currently we do not have a vaccine mandate, but we will continue to monitor the situation within our community of Dana Hall and also the greater community and make adjustments as needed.” 

She added that the school’s large international population was an important factor as vaccines are not as readily available in other areas of the world as they are in Massachusetts. Additionally, some students aren’t able to be vaccinated due to health conditions or religious reasons.

Some schools with vaccine mandates have the option to go maskless according to state guidelines. Though seeing schools both nationwide and statewide loosen their mask mandates in correspondence to increasing vaccination levels, Dana Hall does not plan to do so in the immediate future. Ms. Manna explained, “Right now the safety protocols we have in place are good, so while we have not decided to become mask-optional while indoors at this point, we continue to monitor the environment and will reevaluate. Right now, masking indoors seems to be working. Since we never imagined we’d be in our third Covid school year, it is difficult to say that [we would go mask-optional]. We would need guidance from the federal and state governments for that decision.”

Some students believe that the School would benefit greatly from the implementation of a vaccine mandate. Ivy Wellington ‘24 said that “I would feel more comfortable if there was a vaccine mandate. You can’t control where people go, and oftentimes people don’t wear their masks correctly, so it would make me feel safer when I am around people.” 

Emma Shaich ‘22 and Sophia Cook ‘22 co-wrote a Hallmanac editorial in spring 2021, advocating for a vaccine mandate for the upcoming school year. They wrote, “For the 2021-2022 school year, Dana Hall should require all eligible students and faculty to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Requiring vaccinations will allow Dana Hall to return to as much normality as possible, and we believe that this can only benefit the mental and physical health of students.” 

As Dana Hall approaches the winter months, Ms. Manna urges the student community to remain hopeful for the future and continue prioritizing safety. “We are getting much closer to the new normal. Comparing this year and last year, we are getting closer to all being on campus and engaging in activities in classrooms and with friends, and that feels very familiar to me. I think we need to focus on how far we have come in a year rather than thinking forward.”

Photo credit: Pia Manna.

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