PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Like most school districts around the country, Beaverton School District is prepping for the new school year all while figuring out how to mitigate any COVID-19 spread.
The Centers for Disease Control has given the green light for all kids 12 and up to get the COVID-19 vaccine — and around the area, school districts are doing what they can to encourage families to get the shot.
For example, officials from the Beaverton School District say they’ve had significant success in getting a good amount of community members to roll up their sleeves.
Carl Mead, the deputy superintendent for Beaverton School District, says the access their families have had to vaccines is huge. He believes that’s a big reason why 64% of students in Washington County are vaccinated — but he also says they aren’t stopping the push to encourage more folks to get the shot.
Mead says they’re lucky to be in a community where families are willing to get vaccinated — and get their kids vaccinated too. Regardless of those positive numbers, he says they’re already thinking of ways they can increase access to vaccines among their students.
“We’re looking at the possibility — somebody mentioned to me the other day, can we set up a clinic at a football game ever. That’s a good possibility,” Mead said. “So again, things may look different, but also [we’re] just promoting what school can and should be for kids”
The school district is also flirting with the idea of having drive-thru clinics on the weekends. Safeway and Albertsons have already both offered to partner with the district to put on vaccination clinics when they’re ready to host those.
While they wait for more students to get vaccinated and they wait for the CDC to approve vaccinations for kids under 12 years old, Mead says they have measures in place to keep all their students safe while they’re in the building.
With the return to in-person learning fast approaching, schools have been mulling over those various safety precautions — including how to deal with lunchtime while still keeping the student population safe.
While a lot of this year will be a “learn as we go” situation, Mead says lunchtime is a huge priority for their schools. He says it’s something their district has planned out well.
As far as students going through the lunch line, Mead says food will be pre-portioned, so there will be no risk of any student touching someone else’s food. The traditional salad bar is no more and any sort of a-la-carte option will be scaled back to avoid as much touching as possible.
Mead also touched on something else that’s new this year: lunch will be free to all students. This is a nationwide initiative and something Mead says a good amount of families will benefit from.
“That typically increases the number of students who participate in our lunch program and breakfast programs by about 15 to 20%, which is a good thing,” he said. “We want our kids to be eating and eating well.”
As far as the physical act of eating lunch, he says the students will maintain their distance. While eating outside could be an option while the weather is nice — something other districts have discussed as well — Mead says quite a few of BSD kiddos are actually allergic to bees, so it’s best they keep them indoors as much as possible during lunch.