Majority of Mid-Pacificʻs community vaccinated

Juniors+eat+lunch+outside+Weinberg+after++restrictions+were+relaxed+to+allow+students+to+have+lunch+in+larger+groups.

Evan Baron

Juniors eat lunch outside Weinberg after restrictions were relaxed to allow students to have lunch in larger groups.

By Evan Baron
Staff Writer

Mid-Pacific community members weigh in on COVID-19 prevention measures.

As Mid-Pacific proceeds with its second year of in-person socially distanced classes, school administrators are making decisions about the future to prevent COVID-19 on campus.

Leigh Fitzgerald is the Vice President for Academic Affairs and head of Mid-Pacific’s COVID Response Taskforce. According to the State Department of Health data, there was a 2000 percent increase in Hawaii’s COVID-19 cases after the relative lull over the summer break.

“With the spike with delta, we’re actually a lot more restricted right now than we thought we’d be,” said Fitzgerald.

Mid-Pacific had to halt plans to relax restrictions related to COVID-19.

“We wanted to begin to not require masking outdoors. Given the delta variant, it became a recommendation to still mask outdoors. That could be an area where if things begin to calm down, perhaps we could relax that,” said Fitzgerald.

COVID-19 measures have other effects aside from slowing the spread of the virus. They prohibit students from spending time with their friends.

“I miss just doing stuff with friends without having to worry about them being at risk, and not having to social distance while you eat and stuff, ” said junior Anabella Arzate.

With vaccine mandates becoming more universal among governments and institutions, Mid-Pacific has not made a vaccination mandate. 99 percent of Mid-Pacific’s faculty and staff and 85 percent of eligible students are vaccinated per the survey shared by school president Dr. Paul Turnbull through a school-wide health email.

“One side of me says it’s fine [not to have a COVID-19 vaccination mandate], we do have a mandate for other vaccines here and most schools do. I don’t know, it’s a controversial topic but it’s FDA approved. I’d like to see more of both arguments too,” said MPX teacher Gregg Kaneko.

Not everyone rushed to get their vaccine due to concerns surrounding the speed at which the vaccine was developed.

“Well, it was mostly my parents. We just wanted to see what would happen in the future because there was no proof of any effects in the future or things like that. We just wanted to wait and see what happened,” said a student who was vaccinated recently and asked to remain anonymous out of a fear of retribution.

As of Sept. 22, people in professions that carry a high risk of COVID-19 exposure, including teachers, are eligible to receive booster shots.

“It’ll definitely help with the level of anxiety of being out and about, around people. What I’m still waiting for is to see the data for how it [the vaccine] increases the protection, especially against the Delta variant,” said Kaneko.

On Oct. 25, the FDA approved COVID-19 booster shots that are different from the original first two doses.

“What’s cool is that they approved the mix and match method,” said Kaneko.

However, the question of whether or not Mid-Pacific will implement a vaccine mandate is still undecided.

“It’s not off the table,” said Fitzgerald about a school vaccine mandate. “We want this first semester of data to see if we’re seeing any spread on campus, which thus far we haven’t.

Covid mitigation measures, while proven effective, are still controversial.

“Anything we do, some people are happy about it and some people are upset about it and if we did the opposite thing, it would flip. This is an impossible situation in which to satisfy everybody,” said Fitzgerald.