School Resumes In Springfield As District Tries To Get More Students Vaccinated

Aug 30, 2021

As school starts this week in Springfield, Massachusetts, the district said it's sending permission slips home with middle and high school students so they can receive the COVID-19 vaccine on-site.

Superintendent Daniel Warwick made the case for getting the shots to an 11th-grade English class at the Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy.

"The best thing you can do is get the vaccination," Warwick said. "Once we get everyone vaccinated, we can get the masks off, and get back to normal. So we just encourage you to do that."

Warwick couldn't provide specific vaccination rates among eligible Springfield students, but he said the numbers are low.

State data shows that Hampden County continues to have the lowest percentage of its eligible population fully vaccinated, at 60%.

As far as masks are concerned, Warwick said they may be required into the fall, even though the state has said that may not be necessary.

Last week, the Massachusetts education commissioner said masks are mandatory statewide as schools starts.

But after October 1, individual districts could allow vaccinated people in middle and high schools to go unmasked if at least 80% of students and staff in a building have been inoculated against COVID-19. 

Warwick said it's unclear if the district will go the route offered by the state.

"That'll be a local decision," he said, "and we'd make that in consultation with the head of the health department. We had a mask mandate before the state did, and we'll look at the vaccine rates in Springfield — the spread rates in Springfield — and make a decision based on the science."