Schools are promoting vaccination with incentives
By RACHEL SHEY — email@example.com
As of Jan. 7, 34.1% of Yolo County children ages 5-11 have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, which is ahead of the state average of 27.4%. Only 61% of Yolo County children ages 12-17 have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine, which lags behind the state average of 72.7%.
This discrepancy may simply be a result of the different dates at which Yolo County updates its information, according to Yolo County Public Information Officer John Fout.
“I don’t actually know if the numbers are lagging,” Fout said. “It just might be the way that our numbers are reported. It depends on when you get the stats and compare them to the state statistics. Our data lags a bit more than the state’s.”
In the wake of UC Davis’ decision to hold remote instruction through Jan. 28, elementary and high schools in Yolo County may consider returning to online classes as well. As of now, the schools are planning to resume in-person classes and are awaiting further instruction from the public health officer, according to Yolo County Office of Education Public Information Officer Anthony Volkar.
“We are aware and we’ve seen the increase in cases due to omicron, but right now, all schools in Yolo County are scheduled to resume,” Volkar said. “Davis resumed classes on Monday Jan. 3, Esparto opened on Tuesday, two of our districts opened on Wednesday and Woodland starts classes next Monday. We are seeing increased cases, but right now, there is no anticipation that school will close.”
Volkar said that schools are not mandating COVID-19 testing or vaccination. Schools will mandate vaccination when the COVID-19 vaccine is approved by the FDA, at which point it will become one of the mandatory vaccines that students must receive to go to school. Yolo County distributed testing kits to promote testing but does not require a negative COVID-19 test for students to return to school.
“All of our districts are offering testing to our students weekly, and most of it is on site,” Volkar said. “We released 30,000 rapid test kits, so every student in Davis is able to get a rapid test kit. If they are positive, they are asked to report to their school and not attend class. But this is voluntary and no one is required to do this.”
Schools are also promoting vaccination with clinics, according to Volkar. Vaccines have been available to the youngest elementary school children since early November, and Yolo County has accomplished a fairly high rate of vaccination among these youngest children.
“Every school has hosted a vaccine clinic; we also hosted a youth vaccine town hall with Dr. [Aimee] Sisson that was very popular,” Volkar said. “River Cats had a promotion where they were giving away tickets. We’re generally very proud of the vaccination rate for children 5-11 because those are very strong compared to the state numbers, but we could generally do a lot more work for the group ages 12-17 because those are below the state average.”
Volkar speculated that the lower rate among the 12-17 age group may be a lack of access or misinformation. The county tried to combat this misinformation and create more incentives to get vaccinated.
“We’ve tried to relay as much as possible that they’re free and there’s no long wait,” Volkar said. “One of the things we anticipate is that we may see a jump in vaccinations. Now, if you’re exposed to someone with COVID-19, and you’re not up to date with your vaccinations, you will likely face a quarantine. Because of that, we anticipate seeing more families consider getting vaccinated and boosted.”
Yolo County schools also have air filters and improved ventilation systems to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Some schools have upgraded their filtering systems, but it varies based on the district,” Volkar said. “A lot of them used the money from the CARES Act to improve ventilation systems or purchase air filters. Healthy Davis Together was able to purchase air filters for some of the districts. So far, we haven’t seen a lot of community spread in our schools in Yolo County, and I think that is because of steps like proper air ventilation, sanitation and air filters.”
Written by: Rachel Shey — firstname.lastname@example.org