Ivanhoe students share thoughts on returning to school full time for the first time since March 2020, vaccinations as COVID cases continue to rise
All Visalia Unified School District students returned to full-time, in-person learning on Thursday, Aug. 12. The Ivanhoe Sol interviewed local students and families to capture their thoughts, feelings and experiences on returning back to school while COVID cases continue to rise.
Although Visalia Unified School District opened up for half-day, in-person learning for some of their students on March 28, students are now on a regular full-day schedule.
Many students such as Kevin, a high school student from Ivanhoe, is happy to be back in person with his teachers and friends even though his shy, according to his mom Lisa. Kevin said he fears getting sick and having to attend school online. Although Kevin had to figure out locations of his classes and disliked wearing a mask during PE, he practices safety and enjoys being back in person.
Another high school student, a sophomore from Ivanhoe, said she is glad to be back to in-person learning because she struggled with online learning. This student’s mother shares that she has elderly parents at home so it is important to get vaccinated and tested when possible. Her mother also shared that she hopes that the COVID vaccine becomes a requirement for the safety of our community. “Having a sixth-grade son and a daughter in high school I just pray God helps keep them safe and I encourage them to wash their hands often. I also feel we should all be wearing masks.”
Both the mother and daughter chose to get vaccinated during Ivanhoe’s last Summer Night Lights event that was held from 6-8 p.m. on Aug. 5 at the Ivanhoe Boys and Girls Club. This vaccination clinic was available for children ages 12 and up. The second dose was given on Aug. 26. They did not have any side effects, other than a sore arm and hope other community members consider getting vaccinated.
There were a total of 34 Pfizer vaccines administered during the two-hour event and a staff member shared that it was an amazing turnout compared to all-day events where they have had an average of 2-6 patients.
Resources for Returning Students and Families
The recent surge in Tulare County COVID-19 is being felt in Ivanhoe. According to recent County data, over the last month there have been eleven detections of COVID-19 in the community.
The Ivanhoe Memorial Building has served as an essential resource for supporting residents in the pandemic. Their partnership with Tulare County health staff has increased access to vaccines and testing with the community.
Testing site staff at the Memorial Building confirmed that there has been a great increase in COVID-19 testing since the beginning of the school year. For example, the Testing Administrator shared that there were an average of 20 tests administered per week before school started, consisting mostly of adults.
Since the beginning of the school year there has been an increase in overall testing with a change within the composition of people being tested. For example, there was an estimated 100 tests administered and at least half have been under the age of 18 in the last week of August.
The Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency recently shared an announcement that “nearly all COVID-19 cases in this area are due to the highly infectious Delta variant.”
County Public Health Officer Karen Haught says, “It is imperative for everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible to decrease the spread of this highly infectious Delta variant and stall any potential for another COVID-19 variants to mutate and develop in our community.” She continued, COVID-19 hospitalizations have drastically increased, our local hospitals are at full capacity, health care workers are significantly strained, and medial resources are limited. We all must do our part to decrease the spread of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated and following public health guidelines.”
Ivanhoe’s testing site is open for anyone seeking testing. Its business hours are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday. No prior appointment is needed, but it is highly recommended to complete patient information online prior to visiting the testing site. You can register at LHI.Care/covidtesting.
Recent data has also shown that unvaccinated people have higher rates of hospitalization, admittance to the Intensive Care Unit, and of death. Out of 290 patients hospitalized, 252 were identified as unvaccinated. Additionally, of the 52 patients admitted into the intensive care unit, 51 were unvaccinated. Regarding reported deaths, 10 of 11 people were unvaccinated.
Per California Department of Health Guidelines face coverings are not required if you are fully vaccinated but are still encouraged due to the possibility of “breakthrough” cases. If you are not fully vaccinated, you are required to wear a face covering unless you meet one of the following exemptions:
- Persons younger than two years old
- Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a mask
- Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.