Vaccine Survey and …

Results from the Health Team's anonymous COVID-19 vaccination survey show significant progress in the USN community's path toward herd immunity on campus.
Knowing that this is my second message in a week, brevity should be the watchword. Tough for me as you well know, but here goes — starting with results from the well subscribed vaccine survey of USN families. Even allowing for the fact that multiple adults in the same household could submit responses, getting those 1100+ contributions provides cause for optimism as we look ahead. People clearly care about our capacity to make something meaningful happen by working together. And we can.

Jumping to the data, 95% of adult respondents in our sample report receiving at least one shot, with the majority already being fully vaccinated. Fewer than 1% have no plan to be vaccinated at all, a stark contrast to the wider state numbers that sadly place Tennessee 48th in percentage of our population vaccinated so far, with “reluctance” rates in many counties exceeding 40%.

Our High School student numbers continue to climb for those over 16, already nearing majorities for at least one dose in our junior and senior classes. Bodes well for commencement week activities. The vast majority of USN families support vaccinating their High School students, at rates similar to what we saw with adults. A low single-digit percentage group plans to wait in the near term and an even smaller, handful-sized group indicates no plan to vaccinate their older students.

For Middle and Lower School students, trends looked similar, with more uncertainty about when to vaccinate and interest in more information, but broad support for vaccination eventually. We’ll be sure to offer the wise counsel of our Medical Advisory Group when those inoculation opportunities are opened by the Food and Drug Administration. In the meantime, we’re considering what might be helpful to provide as context for those who are in groups already approved for vaccination. Stay tuned on that front.

Next topic — the race to the academic year finish line. After a few weeks of mostly zeros across our tracker, we’re seeing more requests for testing, more symptoms presenting, and yes, a few more cases. Just as we are all ready for this to be over, correct? Well, here comes what I hope will be the last exhortation.

Please, please, please don’t let up. It only takes a few positive tests to disrupt school for dozens of families. And we are so close. My current sense is that I could probably survive if marooned on a desert island for the limited number of days we have left for school — and I’m not even that resourceful. Let’s resolve to finish together, in person.

Resolution in this case means that if you wouldn’t have done it in October, when we were dialed in and wary, you won’t do it now. No sleepovers, no parties, no mask holidays, no corner cutting — even if you’re fully vaccinated, those under 16s in your household are not. It does seem, from speaking with colleagues at other schools, that COVID-19 fatigue is mushrooming alongside a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude that carries significant risk to public health. 

We’ve shown such capacity to rise to the occasion, and I’d say the next few weeks qualify as an occasion. Rest assured that we’ll strengthen our efforts at school and do our level best to avoid complacency at 2000 Edgehill. Seriously, we’ve come so far. Imagine the celebration ahead.

Yours in effort, 
Vince Durnan

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