Last week the Longmeadow school committee–vaccinated, masked, and meeting virtually–got together to discuss the never-ending topic of COVID-19.

Superintendent Martin O’Shea reviewed a report he submitted to committee members showing districtwide vaccination percentages. According to the report, a surprisingly low percentage of Longmeadow school faculty and staff reported being vaccinated.

Here are the numbers that O’Shea gave the committee:

High School56%
Glenbrook Middle63%
Williams Middle54%
Wolf Swamp46%

This means that the overall average for reported Longmeadow staff vaccination is just 54%. This number is significantly lower than the reported vaccination rate for Longmeadow students, even when you include the number of kids who were ineligible for vaccination at the time the numbers were tallied.

Here are the reported vaccination numbers for Longmeadow’s high school and middle schools:

High School76%
Glenbrook Middle51%
Williams Middle56%
These percentages include both eligible and ineligible students.

The total average of vaccinated Longmeadow students (including those who were ineligible for the vaccine on October 26) is 61%.

O’Shea believes that the number of vaccinated staff is in fact higher than what has been reported. However, O’Shea acknowledged that he had nothing but “anecdotal evidence” to support his belief.

He also alluded to the fact that principals have repeatedly asked their staff to provide evidence of vaccination and that there is incentive for teachers and faculty to get the vaccine.

Currently, vaccinated students and staff are exempt from quarantining and being subjected to the test-and-stay program in place in Longmeadow.

(It should be noted that the CDC has warned schools that fully vaccinated staff and students can still contract, spread, and suffer all the negative symptoms of COVID-19. This warning was made in an August 5, 2021 CDC report entitled Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools. The report has since been deleted from the CDC website. I have a hardcopy, however. Below is an image of the pertinent part of the report. If you’d like a full copy, please send me a message.)

O’Shea mentioned that mandating the vaccine for staff would make getting and reporting the experimental treatment a higher priority for school employees:

It’s not a priority I suppose unless it becomes some sort of requirement. So we don’t require the vaccination of our employees. If we ever did, of course, then we’d have a clearer understanding of the situation.

O’Shea also told the committee that

test-and-stay is not only up and running but very, very active.

Between October 18 and October 26–just nine days–the district administered 160 nasal-swab tests on its kids. That’s about 18 tests a day. Those children who have not been vaccinated and who come into “close contact” with the virus must either quarantine or be subjected to a nasal-swab COVID test for five straight days.

A recent study published by the U.S. Department of Education has shown that depression and other mental health problems among American children is at unprecedentedly high levels. Perhaps school officials should take a momentary break from their COVID discussions to consider the emotional and psychological harm these policies may have on our children.

For more on the Department of Education’s study, click here.