WILMINGTON — The Student Life Center at Ursuline Academy was buzzing with activity on May 20 as the school, in conjunction with the state of Delaware, hosted a COVID-19 vaccination event for students and their families, taking one more step toward normalcy.
The federal Food and Drug Administration approved the COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 12 in early May, and Ursuline was able to team up with Delaware’s Division of Public Health to sponsor an event on campus. One hundred appointments were available for Ursuline students and their families, as well as for students from nearby elementary schools. Most of the appointments were filled rapidly, said Brittany Keller, Ursuline’s director of marketing and communications.
Dr. Sandy Gibney was on site to administer the vaccine. After the shot, the newly vaccinated were directed to the cafeteria inside the Student Life Center for a 15-minute waiting period before they could leave.
“We are incredibly grateful for Dr. Gibney and her team for administering 100 vaccines to our community. They made everyone feel comfortable and at ease, and they even brought the sweetest therapy dog, Sadie,” Keller said. Sadie was mostly silent during the event, although she got everyone’s attention with a mild bark at one point.
One of the younger recipients was Alice, an Ursuline seventh-grade student. She said she knew she wanted to get the shot, and among her classmates, nearly everyone feels the same way if they have not already gotten it.
“When you’re vaccinated, it’s easier to hang out with friends,” said Alice, 13. “You don’t have all the other worries. You just feel better knowing that you’re vaccinated.”
Ursuline freshman Grace Sill made the decision with her parents that she would sign up for the event. Both her mother and father are already vaccinated, and the family has been waiting for approval for younger people. She wanted to get this done before the summer and will return to Ursuline on June 10 for her second dose.
“It didn’t hurt at all. I thought it was going to kind of burn a bit. I’m ready to get rid of the masks,” Sill said.
The 15-year-old said her family is following the COVID-19 safety protocols “pretty well. Most of the people we’re around are vaccinated already. My friends and I are pretty safe.”
Ursuline president Trisha Medeiros said the school has been made sure its students know about local vaccination events, such as one held last week at Saint Mark’s High School.
“When we had the opportunity to make it really convenient, we jumped at the opportunity, and it filled right up,” she said.
Medeiros said most of Ursuline students are receptive to getting the shot. They are ready to eat together and have classes in a normal fashion. Among those receiving the vaccine was Medeiros’ daughter, Ava, a junior at Ursuline.
“She said, ‘Sign me up,’” Medeiros said.
Keller said the school is monitoring the percentage of its students who have been vaccinated, although it will not be a requirement to return in the fall. As far as masks and other protocols go, “we follow DPH guidance. That’s our rule of thumb. Not necessarily CDC, but DPH. As of now, they’re still recognizing masks in schools.”
All Ursuline students, from Montessori to high school, have been in person five days a week since August.
All photos by Mike Lang.