School districts across WNY weigh in on potential vaccine approval for students as young as 5

Education

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — Children as young as five could soon start getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer is waiting on approval from the FDA and CDC, which could happen in the next few weeks.

School leaders across Western New York are unsure if guidelines could soon change in schools as a result of having more students become eligible for the vaccine. School leaders are hoping state and local lawmakers reconsider the mandatory quarantine.

“We’re still quarantining a lot of kids, and that is interfering with their instruction. So we really need to come back and revisit this and I think if vaccinations are the impetus for the revisiting of those off-ramps, as I like to call them, then I think that’s a good thing,” said Niagara Falls School Superintendent Mark Laurrie.

He says based on the school district’s data, it’s been unlikely students became sick from exposure in the schools.

“We’ve had about 200 students quarantine since September 1st in the district, and those quarantines usually last 10 days. That’s a lot of instructional time that’s lost. Of those students quarantined, no one has come back with the virus,” Laurrie said.

“We’ve found when we’ve collected our own data, of 2,500 students who we’ve been required to quarantine since the beginning of the year, less than 2 percent of them have tested positive during the quarantine period,” said Michael Cornell, who’s the Hamburg Central School District Superintendent and the President of the Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association.

Cornell and Laurrie say they’d like to see an option where unvaccinated students can receive a test and if negative and no symptoms, remain in school.

“I think there are many parents I talked to who are excited about the prospect of having their child vaccinated and they’re going to run out and do it quickly, and I think there’s lots of parents and kids that age who tell me they’re going to take a wait and see attitude,” Cornell said.

In the Amherst School District, there are plans for a vaccination clinic on November 13th for children ages 5-11, in anticipation of decisions from the FDA and the CDC regarding emergency use approval of the Pfizer vaccine for younger children.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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