Balsz School District Vaccine Information Summer 2021
Why get the vaccine?
Do you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccines will help keep you and your family from getting the virus. All vaccines in the United States have been shown to be safe and very effective. The Centers for Disease Control also believes the vaccine will keep you from getting seriously ill if you do get the virus.
Once you are fully vaccinated, there is so much more you can do. You can visit with other vaccinated family and friends and safely go to public spaces. People are fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second dose of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and two weeks after the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Find a vaccine
Contact one of the organizations below to schedule an appointment for a free vaccine.
Mountain Park Health Center Gateway Clinic
Valle del Sol
State of Arizona
Vaccine now available for children 12-15
In May 2021 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advised that the Pfizer vaccine is safe for adolescents 12-15 and recommended that each child get a vaccine before returning to school in the fall. Pfizer is the first vaccine manufacturer to gain emergency use authorization for younger Americans. A March clinical trial showed the vaccine was 100% effective in preventing COVID-19 in study participants ages 12 to 15.
Clinical studies are now underway testing the vaccine in elementary school age children and results are expected to be announced soon. There is an expectation that vaccines will be available for this population in the fall of 2021.
This leaves young children as the last unvaccinated population. To protect this population the CDC is leaving in place its recommendation to continue mask wearing and social distancing in school settings.
Balsz masking rules moving forward
CDC recommends schools continue to use the COVID-19 prevention strategies outlined in the current version of CDC’s Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools for at least the remainder of the 2020-2021 academic school year.
Five key prevention strategies are essential to safe delivery of in-person instruction and help to prevent COVID-19 transmission in schools:
- Universal and correct use of masks
- Physical distancing
- Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
- Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities
- Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine
- Students will not be fully vaccinated by the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Youth under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination. Youth between the ages of 12 and 15 became eligible for vaccination on May 12, 2021. Because people are not fully vaccinated until 2 weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine, students in this age group will not be fully vaccinated before the end of current school year.
- The time needed for schools to make systems and policy adjustments. Systems and policy adjustments may be required for schools to change mask requirements for students and staff while continuing to ensure the safety of unvaccinated populations.
What to do if you are exposed
If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you may or may not have to quarantine. It depends on whether you have had the virus recently or are fully vaccinated.
People who are fully vaccinated (two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) do not need to quarantine after exposure to someone with COVID-19.
People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within 3 months before exposure also do not have to quarantine.
All others should quarantine after exposure:
- Quarantine for 10 days without testing OR
- Quarantine for 7 days with a negative test (the test must occur on day 5 or later)
- Continue to watch for symptoms for 14 days after exposure.
The top priority of the Balsz Elementary School District is to ensure our students and teachers have a healthy and safe environment for learning. That’s why Superintendent Dr. Arleen Kennedy and the Balsz School District Governing Board created the Pandemic Team. The Team is funded by a grant. Their mission is to:
Identify, develop and implement programming, resources and partnerships to support Balsz students, families and faculty during the pandemic.
Meet Our Team Members
Left to right: Dr. Ann Hart, Susan Karesky, Michelle Gahee
Dr. Ann Hart is a highly experienced school administrator and education consultant
Susan Karesky is a public relations consultant with experience in healthcare
Michelle Gahee, JD, is an attorney who is an experienced policy, healthcare and media professional
October 2020 Team Highlights
Pandemic Team News
- The Pandemic Team is committed to offering guidance and resources to support & help protect Balsz schools during this pandemic.
- The team met with district administrators and community leaders to understand the impact of COVID-19 on their areas.
- The team then developed findings and recommendations from school site visits for the first phase of our Governing Board presentation.
FAQs for Balsz Parents
- How often should I wash my child’s face covering/mask?
- Masks should be washed after every day of use or if visibly dirty.
- If you have a younger child, consider writing their initials on the mask to avoid confusion or swapping.
- Store masks in a clear plastic bag and label with your child’s name.
- How can I help my child understand why they have to wear a mask?
- Talk with your child about how to correctly wear a mask.
- Explain that by wearing a mask they are protecting their family and friends.
Zip Code Update
Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the 85008 zip code. Balsz School District is monitoring the benchmarks for schools established by the state. You can see the latest numbers here.
There is substantial community spread of COVID-19 in Maricopa County. Please protect yourself and your family by wearing a mask, washing your hands, staying 6 feet away from people you do not live with and staying home when possible. Together we can reduce the spread of the virus.
September 2020 Team Highlights
Pandemic Team News:
- Reviewed COVID-19 policies and best practices from the Balsz School District, county and state health departments, Centers for Disease Control and school districts across the country.
- Visited all Balsz schools to see the safety precautions put in place on each campus.
FAQs for Balsz Parents
- Can my child wear a plastic face shield instead of a mask?
- No, children must wear a mask unless there is a medical reason they cannot.
- The CDC does not recommend using a face shield as a substitute for a cloth mask.
- A face shield is primarily used for eye protect for the person wearing it.
- Where can I get tested for COVID-19?
- Testing is now widely available, and many places offer free tests. You can find testing locations on the Maricopa County and Arizona Department of Health websites.
The Pandemic Team’s 3 W’s
Wear a face covering
Walk 6 feet apart
Wash your hands