Following the FDA and CDC emergency use authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11, Grand Rapids Public Schools has announced they will hold vaccine clinics in all elementary and PK-8 school buildings starting next week.

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Since the beginning of the school year, more than 400 GRPS students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

In a letter to parents, GRPS shared the below statistics:

  • Total number of students who tested positive: 336
  • Total number of staff who tested positive: 98
  • Total number of school associated cases (transmission in school setting): 44
  • Total number of outbreaks: 6
  • School closings: 2
  • County positivity rate: 19% (last 7 days) highest risk level, increasing from last week
  • County incidence rate (cases/100K): 332 (last 7 days) highest risk level, increasing from last week
  • GRPS zip code vaccination rates: Ages 12-17 43% / Ages 16+ 71%, increasing from last week

Information that is updated weekly can be found here.

GRPS says,

We continue to implement mitigation strategies that include encouraging vaccines for all eligible staff and students, universal masking for all staff and students regardless of vaccination status, quarantining of close contacts as directed by KCHD, and regular hand washing.

The school district is partnering with Cherry Health on the vaccine clinics. The dates and times for specific schools have not been shared yet. GRPS says parents should watch for more information on when their child's school is holding their vaccine clinic.

Vaccines are not mandatory and parents will need to give consent to have their child vaccinated.

GRPS Director of Health Services Kim Baron tells Wood TV 8

These kids are interacting with each other all day long. Not only is (the vaccine) going to lessen the severity of the illness or prevent them from contracting the disease, but it’s also going to be able to keep them in school more. We won’t have as many kids that have to be out for quarantine.

There will be a first dose clinic in each school beginning this coming week and then, Baron says, "we’ll come back through for those schools that we can catch before the winter break and do dose No. 2."

If a student is due for their second does during winter break, GRPS will work with parents and Cherry Health to get the second shot administered.

Baron tells Wood TV 8 she realizes parents will have questions:

A lot of people just want more information, and we encourage them to reach out to their school nurses as well because they are a wealth of information.

Parents may also schedule a vaccine for their child by visiting vaccinatewestmi.com, contacting their local healthcare providers, or by visiting a participating pharmacy.

GRPS are also asking for parents' input on mandating masks, following the KCHD announcement that the mask mandate for grades PK-6 will expire on January 2, 2022. The KCHD is still strongly recommending masks for students and staff. Superintendent of Schools, Leadriane Roby, Ph.D., says GRPS wil continue to monitor the data and guidance from federal, state, and county health officials to inform their decision; her goal is to announce the decision on masking before the winter break.

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