The push is on.
Monongalia County school officials are already moving in anticipation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s likely approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old.
Superintendent Eddie Campbell Jr. said around 400 children in that age range have been registered for dosages here once the FDA gives the green light nationally.
Right now, he said, is the equivalent of a freshman navigating unfamiliar hallways on the (pre-COVID) first day of school.
“It’s a good number going in, but it’s still not good enough to get to that herd immunity,” he said.
“And that’s what we need.”
Parents may register through their kids’ school or the district’s website , the superintendent said.
“We’re going to continue to push it hard,” he said. “We need as many kids vaccinated as we can. It’s the only way things are going to get back to normal.”
The district just finished a week that saw 84 students and a teacher quarantined after six positive cases were notched at Mountainview Elementary, Brookhaven Elementary and South Middle schools.
Quarantines included 47 students and the teacher from Mountainview, the superintendent said, with another 37 from Brookhaven.
The Mountainview and Brookhaven cases were back-to-back, Thursday and Friday.
Meanwhile, Campbell’s call for the younger students to roll up their sleeves also comes as Gov. Jim Justice is saying it will be OK this summer to lift the facemasks altogether, assuming that approval comes soon and families comply.
Speaking to reporters Friday, Justice said the masks can come off by June 20 – West Virginia’s 158th birthday – using those Pfizer projections as his guidepost.
Should approval come next week, the governor said, West Virginia is already predicting that 65% of the population aged 12 and older will have at least had the first dose.
In Mon, though, the pending action to unmask also carries a bit of a COVID contradiction.
That’s because 76% of the state’s total cases of the California and U.K. variants of the coronavirus are currently centered here.
Campbell said the push to vaccinate will carry through the summer. Especially, he said, if doses for the 12-to-15 year-old members of the community are approved.
Mon’s school district has around 12,000 students on its rolls, and Campbell would be content, he said, seeing shots in every arm.
“This is going to an ongoing thing,” he said of the marketing effort.
“I want next fall to look completely different from this one.”