Community / Opinion

Dana Hall should trust the facts and require the vax

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. 

Dana Hall School, like any Massachusetts school, must follow the protocols that the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) mandates. However, as a private school, Dana Hall reserves the right to “do more” and require vaccinations even if public schools do not. According to Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Alanna Shuman ’10, Dana Hall already requires DTaP/Tdap, polio, MMR, Hepatitis B, and Varicella vaccines. Adding the COVID-19 vaccine would be only one additional vaccination. 

According to Ms. Shuman, plans for the 2021-2022 school year at the moment entail a new form being added to Magus Health, asking students whether or not they received the vaccine. Such plans assume that Dana Hall will not require vaccination. If a student has been vaccinated, they will be required to submit a form that shows proof of vaccination. We think that Dana Hall should go beyond just asking that students get vaccinated, and instead require students to be vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination. 

Ms. Shuman also explained that even if Dana Hall does require the Covid-19 vaccine, if the vaccine goes against your religion, or you have a doctor’s note clearly stating why you can not medically receive the vaccine, you will be exempt from the requirement, which is in accordance with DESE. 

As of May 10, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has approved the Pfizer vaccine for 12+ year olds. This new step expands the number of Dana Hall students eligible for the vaccine. At this point only 5th and 6th grade students (with a few exceptions) are unable to receive the vaccine. 

Dana Hall has already taken strides to help community members receive the vaccine through a vaccination clinic that offered 100 people (including students, faculty, staff, family) the opportunity to receive a vaccine, free of charge, on Saturday, May 22, and then also the second dose on Saturday, June 12. Ms. Shuman said “The COVID-19 vaccine is so safe and would allow for far fewer restrictions.” We believe that Dana Hall should continue with these efforts to vaccinate our community. 

As long as all Upper School students are vaccinated, the Upper School will be able to return to normalcy, as will the Middle School when all students are vaccinated. 

Writing from the perspective of the Class of 2022, we have only had one full year in the Upper School where our entire grade was together in person daily. While we are extremely grateful that during the pandemic we were able to be on campus as hybrid students, the requirement of the vaccine would allow our senior year to be as close to normal as possible. According to Ms. Shuman, with widespread vaccinations we should be able to enjoy pre-pandemic life and traditions such as Harbor Cruise, step sings, in-person convocations, and everything else that makes Dana Hall special. Having all the students back on campus would also allow for the community to feel unified, which is especially important because COVID has created a divide between in-person students and remote students.

On May 29, in Massachusetts, all COVID restrictions will be lifted for fully vaccinated people. Non-vaccinated people are advised to continue practising safe pandemic protocols. We believe Dana Hall will be able to follow the state’s protocols and similarly lift school restrictions from vaccinated students.  

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