dr. Joseph Ricca, Superintendent of Schools
As the trend of flattened COVID-19 cases continues across the country and vaccination rates hover nearly 90 percent, White Plains Public Schools are working with the Westchester County Department of Health to help the pediatric population get vaccinated.
“We are now at the dawn, the beginning of the possibility of childhood vaccination, and we are very fortunate in our partnership with the province,” said Dr. Joseph Ricca, Superintendent of Schools, at the White Plains Board of Education (BOE) meeting on Nov. 8.
On Nov. 10, the district was one of the first to offer parents and guardians the opportunity to have their children, ages five to 11, vaccinated at the White Plains Department of Health.
“We sent a link to people this afternoon to sign up, and within about 90 minutes, the 270 seats available for the first round were already taken,” said Ricca.
A participant in the BOE meeting said there were only five spots left that afternoon when he wanted to make an appointment for his child. Ricca said the district will provide more opportunities for children, especially since many pediatric practices have a backup.
“For those who can’t get it [a vaccine appointment] either from their pediatrician or through the Department of Health, they will be offered in many of the local pharmacies,” said BOE member Dr. Randy Stein. “It’s incredibly exciting.”
As the vaccination of the pediatric population begins, Ricca said he has received many questions about two topics: the Test-to-Stay program, which is when a contact or potential contact of someone with COVID-19 can test and then quarantine. avoidance, and neighborhood guidelines will change when masking.
Ricca said the province is currently investigating the Test-to-Stay program. As to whether and when masking guidelines will change, Ricca said, they don’t have the answer to that question yet.
“Conversations we’ve seen at the CDC relate that exit to vaccination efforts,” Ricca said. “So we’re going to do everything we can to [vaccination] opportunities and make them available to everyone.”
BOE member Rose Lovitch reiterated that while many people believe that children, especially very young children, are not at risk of contracting COVID-19, children as young as five months of age have become ill.
A woman who works at a daycare told Lovitch that she recently contracted both a five-month-old and an 11-month-old child.
“This disease is relentless,” Lovitch said. “It shows no prejudice, it doesn’t care about age, it cares nothing but the fact that it will continue to attack anyone who is not protected.”
Lovitch said it’s crucial to continue to try and encourage friends and loved ones who think COVID-19 is a hoax that it is real, and to protect themselves and their families.
“The kids are starting to show signs, and for me that’s heartbreaking,” Lovitch said.