Schools Reopen for Hybrid Learning Without Vaccines for Students


Ava Paulsen, Editor in Chief

The countdown to the return to campus has started. Hybrid learning across Hart District will commence on March 29 as the first cohorts arrive on Jr. high and high school campuses. For Castaic High School, the bell schedule will remain the same with no students on campus for asynchronous Friday. For the remainder of the week, there will be two separate groups arriving on campus. Cohort A will attend school on Mondays and Tuesdays, while cohort B will attend school Wednesdays and Thursdays. Whereas those who opted to remain distance learning from home, their schedule will stay the same. Additionally, as of now, sports practices and games will continue to play and practice during their scheduled times throughout the transition to hybrid learning.  

The response to reopening schools has been largely positive, however there is hesitancy among the majority of the student body. According to a poll conducted by Good Morning Castaic, 53 percent of students would prefer to wait to return to school until the Fall. Sophomore, Luka Hodge, explained on the air that despite mask mandates, difficulty with implementation will pose a risk to the student body. 

Are you returning to hybrid learning on March 29?

  • Yes (50%, 8 Votes)
  • No (50%, 8 Votes)

Total Voters: 16

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Apprehension about returning to in-person instruction is especially warranted as freshmen and many sophomores are not old enough to qualify for any vaccines. Of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for emergency use authorization, only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for ages 16 and 17. Even if one is sixteen, students are not eligible to receive the vaccine unless they have a qualifying preexisting condition. The other two approved vaccines, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have not completed the necessary trials in order for the vaccines to be approved and distributed to people under 18. 

Pfizer is continuing to de-escalate their pediatric clinical trials as they are currently in trials with 12 to 15-year-olds. Moderna has begun to enroll participants ages 12 to 18 in trials in order to begin the approval process for young people; and as the Johson & Johnson vaccine has just been approved, they have yet to start any pediatric trials. 

According to Dr. Buddy Creech, associate professor of pediatrics and director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program, without vaccinating young people the virus will continue to spread. “Unusual variants [will] emerge that may have the ability to evade our immunity,” says Creech. Ultimately, students are a broad category of people that need to be vaccinated in order to accomplish the necessary herd immunity that will bring this pandemic to a halt. 

In an interview with ProPublica, Dr. Anthony Faucci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, estimates that vaccines for kids as young as first grade could be authorized for use by the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. This news gives students hope for the possibility of immunizations, but not in time for the March 29 reopening for hybrid learning.