March 25, 2021
On Wednesday, March 17, Champlain Valley Union High School (CVU) hosted a vaccination clinic to distribute the 1000 doses they were allocated. The Vermont National Guard administered the vaccines to CVU educators and staff, as well as those from neighboring districts.
Between the 53-degree weather and the prospect of being vaccinated, everyone who came out was in a noticeably good mood. The excitement was catching.
“It means everything. It means hope,” said CVU program assistant Lora Crabtree.
CVU Principal Adam Bunting estimates that nearly all of the available doses were administered on Wednesday. Superintendent Pickney reminded the community that “the vaccine’s full effectiveness kicks in two weeks after the final dosage,” meaning the 1000 won’t be fully vaccinated until late April.
Some were concerned about whether there would be enough vaccines for all the educators and staff. In Superintendent Elaine Pinckney’s CVSD update she wrote, “while 1000 doses do not meet the CVSD demand, I am told that this will not be the only option for our teachers. Other clinics are scheduled and more will be scheduled in the near future.”
“Amongst the various clinics and pharmacies, I am not aware of anyone being shut out,” said Principal Bunting in an email.
Also in the CVSD update was the news that some of the middle schools in the district like Hinesburg Community School and Williston Central School will begin 4-days per week in-person instruction soon. There is still no change in the hybrid instruction method (with the fully remote option) at CVU.
“We want our students back full-time as soon as we can safely do so!” wrote Principal Bunting. “The major impediment is recommendation around 6′ spacing. We don’t have the physical space to accommodate in-person learning for all 1300 of our students at that distance. 3′ distancing gets us closer to full-time in-person, but we would have to be cautious with some of our smaller spaces. At the end of the day, we follow science and the advice of our health care professionals.”
Among those getting vaccinated on Wednesday, opinions were mostly positive of the balance that area school districts have struck between safety and student needs, though there were some dissenters.
Tom Rugg, head coach of girl’s varsity ice hockey at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington, called them “too restrictive,” though he did not wish to elaborate.
Erin Jipner, a Behavior Intervention Specialist and Volunteer at Bristol Elementary School, suggested that the restrictions are felt differently at different grade levels. “The biggest difference is the culture. Being at an elementary school, I see how the kids have just gotten used to it not knowing to expect anything else.”
Vaccinations are voluntary for CVU educators and staff, “but appear to be widely welcomed and appreciated by our faculty and staff,” said Bunting. “We treat these vaccines with the gratitude and gravity they deserve–everyone one of us who gets one means someone else doesn’t.”
Rahn Fleming, who serves as both the coordinator of The Learning Center and head football coach at CVU, was keenly aware of that gravity. “The level of relief I feel getting the vaccine tells me that I’ve been carrying more anxiety than I let on. I’ve been here twenty years, and you see how I am,” Fleming gestured toward a colleague he had an enthusiastic exchange with right before the interview started, “It’s euphoric. I’m just so happy for people.”
Editor’s note: This article is by Maddy Holden, a reporter with the Community News Service, a collaboration with the University of Vermont’s Reporting & Documentary Storytelling program.