2,000 kids suspended from C-K schools
Schools suspended nearly 2,000 Chatham-Kent students this week, and none of it was due to acting out, fighting or any other form of misbehaviour.
The kids got the boot because they didn’t get the shots.
CK Public Health officials reported about 2,000 students were not up to date with their routine school immunizations and, as a result, were suspended.
That’s about 10 times the normal number of kids suspended for not having up-to-date immunizations, according to Carina Caryn, program manager for CK Public Health.
Public Health officials credit the pandemic for having a major impact, as resources were used to roll out the COVID-19 vaccines to the public for a long stretch.
Despite the fallout of the pandemic delaying shots, efforts were made to catch all students up with their immunizations. Officials said parents were sent letters in August of last year and in January, with orders for compliance issued just last month.
“We ran ‘catch-up’ clinics at each high school across Chatham-Kent, as well as additional clinics for those still overdue in February and early March at our King Street clinic location,” Caryn said.
Those events came on the heels of additional clinics held in the spring of last year across high schools in Chatham-Kent, which were open for anyone to get their updated shots.
Officials from Public Health said it wasn’t one specific immunization that was particularly lacking.
Mumps, measles, rubella, varicella, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, haemophilus influenza type B, and pneumococcal vaccinations were all listed as immunizations that were not up to date, according to CK Public Health.
School-aged kids from across age groups were impacted.
Two shots that had zero impact on suspensions were HPV and Hepatitis B, as they are not mandatory immunizations, “and therefore students missing those shots are not at risk of suspension,” CK Public Health officials said.
It’s not difficult to get a suspended student back in the classroom.
“A student goes back once they are cleared by Public Health with up-to-date immunizations or an appointment time to complete those immunizations,” Caryn said.
Public Health will be back in schools in May for all Grade 7 and 8 students, offering another round of Hep B, HPV and meningitis shots, she added.