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Parent airs concerns about vaccines at Hunters Point Boarding School

WINDOW ROCK

Concerns over a vaccine mandate were brought to the attention of the Health, Education and Human Services Committee last Wednesday during a regular meeting.

The vaccine mandate at Hunters Point Boarding School was put into place earlier this year by the school board.

The mandate states that students and staff must be vaccinated if they attend in-person classes. If a student is not vaccinated, they must attend class virtually.

The reasoning for the mandate was to keep students, staff and families safe.

One resident and parent, Michelle Wilson, said she chose not to vaccinate her children. She said her children are not able to focus while attending classes virtually and they learned more while attending in-person classes.

“Children learn in different ways,” she said. “I felt that they learned and progressed while they were in school. Through the Zoom schooling with the teachers, it wasn’t beneficial, it wasn’t helping my children at all.”

She believes being at home was “very distracting” to her children and she felt like they were not learning like they would in school.

She also said virtual schooling was not consistent due to classes being canceled due to technical difficulties and because the technology such as laptops and hot spots was not reliable.

“Two of my children have failed and they were told that they need to be retained and I blame the school for it,” she said. “If they didn’t place the mandate then my children would have been in school with all the other children.”

As a previous employee at the school, Wilson said the principal followed the decisions the school board had made.

“She never really said, like, ‘Well maybe we should look at it this way,’ or you know, ‘There are other options,’” Wilson said.

Wilson asked the board and committee to rethink the decision of the vaccine mandate and to consider families on a case-by-case basis.

Julia Donald, principal of Hunters Point, said the past two years have been “very hard times” and the school is trying to protect everybody at the school and this past year has been a recovery year.

She also said that she has listened to all sides of the vaccine mandate.

“I bet they based their decision on mandating the vaccine because they were looking out for everybody’s well-being and making sure that everybody was safe,” Donald said.

Janice Damon, president of the Hunters Point school board, echoed Donald’s beliefs and confirmed the school board had thought about the mandate for a long while before deciding a mandate would be in the best interest of everyone.

“It took a while before we did the vaccine mandate, we did listen to our staff, we did listen to the parents but the overall consensus from many of the parents was that they were willing to get the vaccine and the boosters,” Damon said. “The parents first and the children eventually followed suit based on the CDC.”

While safety of the students and staff at Hunters Point was a priority, Damon said the decision, “permeates to the family, the parents, the grandmas, everybody.”

As of last Wednesday, the committee decided on visiting the school in the near future with no set date.

 As a public service, the Navajo Times is making all coverage of the coronavirus pandemic fully available on its website. Please support the Times by subscribing.

 How to protect yourself and others.

Why masks work. Which masks are best.

Resources for coronavirus assistance

  Vaccine information.



About The Author

Hannah John

Hannah John is from Coyote Canyon, N.M. She is Bit’ah’nii (Within His Cover), born for Honágháahnii (One Who Walks Around), maternal grandfather is Tábaahí (Water Edge) and paternal grandfather is Tódich’ii’nii (Bitter Water). She recently graduated from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s in communications and a minor in Native American studies. She recently worked with the Daily Lobo and the Rio Grande Sun.

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