Hazel Park schools host COVID vaccine clinics for kids

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published November 17, 2021

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HAZEL PARK — School-age children are now eligible to receive COVID vaccines, and the Hazel Park Public Schools are hosting community clinics to help make them more readily available.

Schools officials say the first clinic, held in partnership with Oakland County on Nov. 9, was a huge success. At press time, there was also a clinic planned for Nov. 23, held after press time.

Additional clinics will be held on Monday, Nov. 29 from 4 to 7:30 p.m., and Tuesday, Dec. 14 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., both at Webb Elementary School, located at 2100 Woodward Heights Boulevard in Ferndale, The Dec. 14 clinic is provided in partnership with the Judson Center.

For more information, call the school district’s administrative office at (248) 658-5200.

Shawn Johnson, the school district nurse, said in an email that the clinics fill up quickly.

“We are excited to be able to provide this additional opportunity to our community,” he said.

Johnson noted that the Hazel Park Public Schools also participate in “Test to Stay,” a program launched earlier this fall where students who had close contact with a COVID patient are tested daily by school nurses. If the student tests negative, they can go to school that day.

“As a result, there have been 90 days where students have been able to attend school rather than being quarantined at home and missing school,” Johnson said.

The district has been back to full in-person learning since February. At the time there were a number of protocols put in place, including students and staff wearing masks, desk shields for all classrooms and ThermoScan temperature machines in front of each building, cohorts in K-8, students eating at their desks at lunch, 360-degree cleaning machines sanitizing each room, and desk wipes and hand sanitizer available in each class. The district also hired more cleaning staff and two extra nurses, and continues to offer virtual offerings for families who opted in over the summer.

Amy Kruppe, the superintendent, said that she encourages everyone to get vaccinated.

“Students having the opportunity to be vaccinated gives everyone the opportunity for a safer school experience — both students and staff. And students who are vaccinated are not subjected to quarantine,” Kruppe said via email. “Loss of school days develops a loss of learning, so the students who are vaccinated have a better chance of not getting sick, and remaining in school for learning.”

She said the Test to Stay program has been effective at determining when it’s safe for a student who has been around COVID to stay in school.

“Our program allows students to be rapid-tested daily,” Kruppe said. She noted that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) supports the program. “Since a student who is sick can have close contacts throughout the day, doing this program has significantly reduced the number of students out. For example, (normally) we may have only four to five students or staff test positive across the district and there would be 160 quarantined (due to proximity), but with the ability to rapid test … we have reduced that number into the forties.

“It’s a choice for parents to use this process, and we of course are 100% supportive of whichever direction a family decides to take,” Kruppe said. “It’s so important to give choices during this difficult time. Which choice is best, none of us know, because we have never faced a situation like this before. We can only continue to listen to the guidance of Oakland County and MDHHS, and watch our data while we continue to provide the best possible environment for students and staff.”