Social Splits and Sixth Grade Spit

Spit Testing Required for Sixth Graders, Regardless of Vaccination Status

Parker has four grade divisions – Lower, Intermediate, Middle, and Upper –  but with the age requirements for the COVID-19 vaccine comes a new split. In the Upper School, most students are vaccinated because they are old enough. But in the sixth grade, inoculation percentages look a little different – the minimum age to receive a coronavirus vaccine is 12, and the sixth grade is made up of both 11- and 12-year-old students.

Only unvaccinated seventh and eighth graders submit saliva samples each Monday. Every sixth grader, however, no matter their vaccination status, needs to participate in screening each week, as well as additional health and safety protocols.

Sixth graders don’t have lockers this year. Instead, they bring their backpacks and binders with them to their first class. “We usually keep our backpacks in our advisor’s room,” said sixth grader Audrey Terman. “We carry our binders with us throughout the whole school day.” 

“Because some are unvaccinated, the sixth graders eat in the classrooms. Each student is separated from the other by shielded plastic glass whilst they can’t talk during the eating period.” – Peg Zerega said. “Once every student is finished, they get to go outside for recess.” 

Because these students don’t have time to socialize during their eating period, they get a longer recess after lunch. They stay masked outside.

Many sixth graders are looking forward to being vaccinated once they are old enough. “I am going to get vaccinated in November, when I turn 12,” sixth grader Roberto Mickelson said. “It will let me be freer and feel safer.”

Lila Petry, another sixth grader, won’t turn 12 until July of 2022. “I want to get my vaccination then, but there is a chance that I can get it earlier if the age goes down,” she said. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is getting closer to allowing kids under 12 to be vaccinated, and that change reportedly could happen in November. 

Although some sixth graders are waiting for the adapted guidelines,  Zerega said that her team and the students are adjusting to the stricter protocols. “We are comfortable with how we are teaching these students and this is becoming the new normal for us,” Zerega said.