Buena Vista School District R-31 staff will begin to receive the COVID-19 vaccine Friday, superintendent Lisa Yates told the district board of directors Monday, with the goal that the staff will go into spring break fully vaccinated.

Yates learned Monday afternoon that the vaccine coming to the district would be the one manufactured by Pfizer, not Moderna, “which means there’s a difference in dosage, and the lengths between each one. 

“So, while we thought our second one would be on March 12, it’ll need to be on March 5. … The Pfizer has a 3-week window, which means our staff will be vaccinated before spring break.”

Yates said that the district is “working really hard to have that vaccination clinic here in BV. I am a little worried about the clinic Friday; I heard some people that were there last time sat in line for an hour … I anticipate there will be a long line.

“I think there’s just an effort, overall, to have the vaccine clinic in BV, in the north end of the county,” she said.

Yates said that regular testing would also continue every Monday.

“What that allows, having it on Monday, is that students that can get out of quarantine, they’re back two or more days, whereas if we do it later in the week, you’re tested and you don’t have that many days left in the week,” Yates said. The tests have found some asymptomatic students, she said.

Yates also took a moment to speak with the board about her feelings toward the framing of public discussion around how COVID-19 has impacted students academically.

“I’ve been struggling with that term, ‘learning loss,’” Yates said. “I think it’s an unfair statement to say there’s something lost that we now have to fix as schools. It gives this impression that when we come back in the fall in-person, no matter what your district has done, things will be regained.”

Reading a statement, Yates said that this framing discounts “the wisdom that loss can bring.

“We’re creating this message of more fear that our kids are going to suffer great lengths academically, and I don’t believe that,” she said. “The kids are going to hear this message that there’s something wrong with them now that they’ve missed this time.”

Yates continued:

“Our plans to support our students in the fall will focus on meeting students where they are academically and emotionally. We all need to prioritize and ingrain what has been lost, and even more, what about has been gained in this time. Not all, or not even many of our students have been broken by this historic time. They don’t need to be fixed. None of us as adults have survived the pandemic as a child or adolescent.

“The Buena Vista district will continue to wrap around students who we know were critically impacted by the response to this pandemic, nurturing skills of resilience and connecting them with resources in our community, but we’ll also provide academic skills. Some of these students may benefit from a jump-start, or a credit recovery period prior to the fall,” she said. “We’ve been attentive with our students throughout the 2020-2021 school year, and still we will need to attend to the impacts that the pandemic has brought to our students by listening to them, meeting them where they are academically and, most of all, establishing consistent connections with adults who care in our community. 

“We’ll also restore the social activities and traditions that are the bedrock of the school experience. The loss for our students was in social and academic experiences together, and as we attend to these, being with our students as we make sense of these unthinkable months, our students will learn, and they will be part of defining success in a post-pandemic world. We cannot ignore what students have seen,” Yates said.

Summarizing her thoughts, Yates said, “Yes, we are going to look at the academic loss, we’ve brought that to this board.

“We’re not ignoring that, but we also cannot assume that we understand what we need to do next, and I think we need to be listening to our students, honestly,” she said. “They have survived this as a child. We look at it as an adult.”

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