On Friday, Paris ISD will join forces with Honey Grove’s Puckett Family Clinic to provide 12- to 18-year-old students with Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccinations.
The vaccinations will take place at Paris High and Paris Junior High, but they will also be open to students from Travis High School of Choice and Crockett Intermediate School. For students to receive a vaccination, they must have a signed permission slip from their parents and must have filled out all requisite forms.
Only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children between the ages of 12 and 18 years old, and the nearest supplier of Pfizer vaccines is Puckett Clinic, school officials said. Though some students have already driven with their parents to receive the Pfizer vaccine in Honey Grove, Paris ISD wanted to ensure all students had access to the vaccine.
“We just wanted to make it accessible to any kid, or any parent that wanted their child to be vaccinated, and just make it an easier process for our students to be vaccinated,” Assistant Superintendent Althea Dixon said.
Many students wanted to get the vaccine, Dixon said, particularly high school students.
“We did a survey, and there are probably more high school students that show interest in it, versus middle school students, and you know, I totally understand that. Some of our kids are getting ready to go off to college, so it just makes it easier for us to provide that service for the parents and students that are interested in taking the vaccination,” Dixon said.
The vaccination event comes on the heels of a decision by the Paris ISD Board of Trustees to end its schoolwide mask mandate, a decision reached a week before Gov. Greg Abbott declared that schools must end mask mandates on June 4.
“You know, next year, according to Governor Abbott, we are not going to be able to require masks. Our school had already decided after June 7 that we were going to make masks optional for next year. And then when Governor Abbott came out with next year that it was banned anyway, it just makes it more important that we get kids vaccinated if possible because I really do feel like it is a safe vaccination for our students,” Dixon said.
Paris ISD has had its own struggles with Covid-19. Many students contracted the virus, and several teachers were hospitalized. Furthermore, two school employees passed away due to the Covid-19 virus, a sobering cause that prompted a more conservative approach when it came to safety precautions, Dixon said.
“And so that alone made us be much more cautious, much more probably conservative because we’ve experienced loss. And if you ask anybody in our district, they know someone that they’ve lost or have long term effects of Covid symptoms, illnesses, or you know, we’ve lost some good people in our community,” Dixon said.
She added the Paris ISD community felt hope with the vaccinations.
“We’re so excited now that I think the vaccinations have helped. I think the fact that we’ve had a lot of people in our community already with Covid has helped, but we’re so excited now that the numbers are trending downward, not just in our community, but in the state of Texas, and in the nation. Because we want to go back to being normal in the fall, and we know that vaccinations will help with that. And we’re just encouraging all of our employees and our students to get vaccinated,” Dixon said.
In the future, Paris ISD plans to continue the extensive sanitary cleaning and similar precautions. For information about the vaccination event, contact the school nurse.