BOSTON (CBS) – More than 88,000 Massachusetts kids have now received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Still, as kids begin the vaccination process, schools are struggling to keep up with contact tracing and quarantines.
In the week from November 11 to November 17, 3,257 students in Massachusetts schools tested positive for COVID-19, as well as 558 staff members. This represented yet another increase from the week prior.READ MORE: Vaccinated Westboro High School And Middle School Students Allowed To Remove Masks
The concern over COVID-19 spread led the Curley School in Jamaica Plain to close for a few weeks to manage an outbreak as well as improve the implementation of the Test and Stay program.
The Test and Stay Program is a state program meant to keep kids in school. Any students who are symptomatic or a close contact can get tested immediately and stay in school if they test negative.
“We really came together as concerned parents,” Dr. Mei Elansary told WBZ. She is a Jamaica Plain parent of two children in Boston Public Schools. Along with other Manning School parents who are also in the healthcare field, she wrote an Op-Ed in the Boston Globe calling for a CDC investigation into COVID-19 mitigation in Boston schools.
“Moving forward it would be great if we could have more proactive strategies and ways to really scale up our efforts so that we can keep kids in school where they want to be,” she explained. “So, we really think that an investigation by the CDC would be really helpful in figuring out just where are the gaps in prevention and infection mitigation and what can we do.”READ MORE: Over 200 UMass Memorial Health Employees Fired After Not Receiving COVID Vaccine
Dr. Shira Doron, epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, said more resources need to be invested into the Test and Stay program. “You have to have the resources to conduct test and stay,” Doron said. “When you have a number of students who need to be tested every morning and they’re lined up around the corner, at some point it becomes not doable, and you cannot get them to class in time.”
At this point in the pandemic — and even prior — Doron says kids should and should have remained in school. “I don’t think there’s any reason to close the school down anymore,” she said. “We should not be closing school. It was a mistake to have closed the schools last year. It was a mistake. It wasn’t part of our pandemic plan ever.”
Regarding the swine flu epidemic, she said, “there were a lot of documents that said schools should not be closed because it has a tremendous negative long lasting public health impact in and of itself.”
Doron still says the best method of protection for children and adults is the vaccine. While 88,000 kids are on their way to being fully vaccinated, she understands that many families are taking a “wait and see” approach.
“You don’t have to wait long if you want to wait and see,” Dr. Doron explained. “Because adverse effects, and really there is only one, and that’s the myocarditis which is the inflammation of the heart that is associated with this vaccine, and it occurs generally approximately four days generally after the second dose.”MORE NEWS: Wind Gusts Across Eastern Mass. Projected To Be 50 MPH Or Higher On Monday Night
So, families who are taking a “wait and see” approach will know in a few short weeks how other kids are doing with their vaccines.