As cases mount, Darien considers COVID vaccine clinic for high school students

Darien High School

Darien High School

Susan Shultz/Hearst Connecticut Media

DARIEN — As COVID cases forced the high school to again switch to remote learning Thursday, the district is considering coordinating with the town to offer a vaccination clinic for interested students 16 and older when they become eligible next month.

During this week’s Board of Education meeting, Schools Superintendent Alan Addley said he addressed the somewhat inconsistency of quarantine procedures during a statewide health update call for the schools.

Board member Katie Stein asked if the district had considered approaching the town’s Department of Heath to coordinate vaccinations for students 16 and older who are interested once they become eligible April 5.

The district’s director of nursing, Alicia Casucci, said school systems had been encouraged to pursue vaccinating high school students in towns where those resources were available once that age group becomes eligible.

Casucci said the district plans to work with the town’s health department, which has been conducting vaccine clinics. However, Casucci said any arrangements would depend on the availability of vaccine and the demand.

“If we can do it, I will see if we can try to set that up with the health department. But there will be a lot of people who want the vaccine and I don’t know if they will make that a priority group,” Casucci said.

Board member Debra Ritchie asked how getting the vaccine affects the need to quarantine.

Casucci said two weeks after the second dose or the single dose for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine means those who are inoculated no longer needs to quarantine. Teachers are due for their second doses early next month after the town held a clinic for their first shot. Casucci said the district has some students who are emergency responders for Darien EMS Post 53 and do not need to quarantine because they have been vaccinated.

First Selectman Jayme Stevenson and Darien Health Director David Knauf supported the idea of a student vaccination clinic.

Knauf said the town would “absolutely” support the concept of a clinic for high school students who are 16 and older.

Knauf pointed to Gov. Ned Lamont’s office indicating Connecticut’s vaccine supply will outpace demand in May as an opportunity to vaccinate older students who are interested.

“The problem is the age restriction for vaccine leaves most students not eligible,” Knauf said. “However, some protection is better than none.”

Stevenson said “if the school wished us to host a student clinic and we had enough appropriate-for-students vaccine supply, I think this would be a wonderful service to offer on a voluntary basis, with parent support.”

On Wednesday, the district was notified about nine people who tested positive for COVID-19, according to an email from Addley.

These included six cases at Darien High, and three at Hindley Elementary School. One of the Darien High cases required additional contact tracing.

The district’s COVID-19’s dashboard shows 13 total cases, with 165 in quarantine and eight locations impacted.

In the last week, Darien reported an additional 49 cases as of Wednesday. While Stevenson said many were feeling optimistic, at Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, she urged residents to continue to use caution and preventative measures.

“The news is really good, and we feel like spring is here, and we can see the light at the end of the COVID tunnel, but we are not out of the woods yet here in Darien,” she said.

She said despite the state relaxing some restrictions, “wearing masks and social distancing is still required.”

“It is really important that we continue to adhere to these rules, especially when in municipal locations,” Stevenson said.

She particularly noted the transfer station as a location where some are not following the mask protocol.