SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — Ohio’s COVID-19 cases are steadily rising, reaching numbers the state has not seen in months. The Ohio Department of Health reported 2,167 new cases Wednesday, the highest number since mid-April. The new cases, coming at a time when students throughout the state are preparing to head back to school.
The Shaker Heights School District hosted a back-to-school barbecue Wednesday evening. Nearly 2,500 students and their families made their way to Onaway field for live music, meet and greets, hotdogs and hamburgers, and activities.
“Given the year that we just had, we really wanted a chance to bring our community together to celebrate the wonderful things about the Shaker Heights School District,” said Dr. David Glasner, the district’s superintendent.
The back-to-school barbecue is a chance for students to feel more prepared for the start of classes on Aug. 25, and it’s also a shot to get their COVID-19 shots.
“We really expect to stay in person this year and we are putting in place all of the strategies we need to to make sure that stays the case,” said Glasner. “It’s a priority. It’s critical for students to be in person, to really engage in the learning experience that we know they missed out on, or some things they missed out on, over the past year and a half.”
In partnership with Discounts Drug Mart, the event also had a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic for students and their families.
“We want to make sure that we are eliminating any kids of barriers and providing access for people to get vaccinated,” said Glasner.
Naquetta Porter’s son Cedrick is 15-years-old and will be a freshman at Shaker Heights High School.
“I’m excited to embark on this new season for him,” she said.
A new season that he will be entering into fully vaccinated. She said it was his choice to take advantage of the vaccine clinic and get his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
“I really allowed my children to make the decision,” she said. “Him going into high school, it’s that little bit of maturity now of you have to make that adult decision and think it through.”
Cedrick said after some of his own research, he said he wanted an extra level of protection that the vaccine provides.
“I have to go to work, football practice, go to school, probably go outside, then you have to go back at home and bring whatever germs you picked up,” he said.
Dan Bandy has two daughters going into 3rd and 5th grade, they’re both still too young to get the vaccine.
“As soon as they’re both eligible, we’re going to be on that right away,” he said.
Bandy was encouraged to see the clinic at the back-to-school barbecue.
“The more exposure and talking about it, and it being in people’s faces, hopefully, that will bring more opportunities for people to go through with it,” he said.
Glasner said they will require students and staff to wear masks, no matter vaccination status, but said the more people in the buildings that are vaccinated, the higher the chance of having a more normal year.
“We can only do this if, we, as a community, all together commit to fighting COVID-19 and part of that is getting vaccinated,” he said.
About 20 students got vaccinated at Wednesday’s event. Glasner said the district does not require any of their students or staff members to get vaccinated and they do not have any type of data collecting system to know just how many of the students are vaccinated.
He said the district is planning on hosting more vaccination clinics on campus in the future.