PHOENIX, Ariz.– – The delta variant is spreading quickly throughout the U.S., and some high schools are trying to get the upper hand by offering — and in some cases requiring — COVID-19 vaccinations.
Earlier this week, California became the first state to require all teachers and school staff to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Hawaii is requiring all students participating in high school sports get the vaccine, and it’s likely other states will follow.
In Arizona, the Phoenix Union High School District is keeping the vaccine optional for students and staff but it is now offering on-campus shots for anyone who wants one. It says its goal is for students to stop by before or after school or in between classes.
“If you’re under 18 you do need parent permission,” said Chad Gestson, Phoenix Union High School District superintendent. “So long as you have the signed form, you can get a vaccine.”
Each high school in the Phoenix district will work on a rotating schedule, for example Camelback High School will provide vaccines on Mondays and Central High School will take Wednesdays. The district oversees 22 high schools across Phoenix, including around 30,000 students.
Since January, the district been hosting mass vaccination events for the community, delivering more than 30,000 doses already and growing. The events at Metro Tech High School will continue every Saturday in August from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
“Last weekend we were at Metro Tech High School, we expected between 150 and 200 vaccines, but we ran out of vaccines within an hour, brought back more, ran out a couple hours later, we had over 1,000 visitors to Metro Tech High School gave out over 700 vaccines,” said Gestson.
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After spending most of her freshman year virtual, Camelback High School student Evalynn Morales Chavez is happy to be back on campus to start her sophomore year. She got her vaccine just before school started and now she’s hoping her classmates will do the same.
“I’ve heard people backlash the vaccine but it’s like, it’s a thing to keep people safe, and it’s a good option for them to get, so I recommend you get it,” said Morales Chavez.
When it comes to masking, several states have already put mandates or restrictions in place. The state of Arizona has already banned schools from mandating mask requirements but several are defying that, including the Phoenix Union High School District, the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University who are all requiring them on their campuses.