Board to discuss support for vaccinating teachers, staff at New Hingham

  • Vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. THE TIME-TRIBUNE VIA AP/CHRISTOPHER DOLAN

Staff Writer
Published: 1/20/2021 10:30:42 AM

CHESTERFIELD — The Select Board was expected to discuss Tuesday whether to sign onto an effort seeking an earlier vaccination schedule from the state for teachers and staff at New Hingham Regional Elementary School, where students are learning in person.

The school has been educating students in-person full time since October, and New Hingham School Committee member Geoffery Gougeon says that its teachers and staff should be vaccinated alongside first responders, who are currently in the process of receiving the vaccine.

Gougeon said that he plans to send letters and statements of support for the change to the state Department of Public Health.

“Our teachers have been professional and gracious,” said Gougeon, speaking of how they’ve dealt with in-person education at New Hingham during the pandemic.

Gougeon said he started his effort after seeing that teachers are currently scheduled to receive the vaccine in Phase 2 of the state’s vaccine rollout, which is set for February to March. However, Gougeon said that while most teachers in the state are teaching in remote or hybrid systems, those at New Hingham have been teaching full time in-person for months.

Gougeon said the decision to bring back students full time had been due to a lack of cases in Chesterfield and Goshen at that point, and out of concern for the children’s mental well-being.

Don Willard, who chairs the New Hingham School Committee and also serves on the Select Board, said that in-person schooling has been going well. Although some in the school community have gotten COVID-19, there is no evidence it has been spread as a result of school contact.

“We have not seen any spread so far,” said Willard.

Willard also said that masks are worn at all times except for meals at New Hingham, and that social distancing is also practiced.

Gougeon has received a letter from Jonathan Schwab, the medical director for Northampton Area Pediatrics, that supports a very high vaccine priority for teachers who have contact with children.

“Considering the potential exposure that teachers might face while in the classroom, and that their heroic efforts are significantly contributing to the health and well-being of their students, I believe these teachers should be considered as essential to our community as others who have already received the vaccine,” reads part of the letter.

Hampshire Regional School District Interim Superintendent Michael Sullivan is also drafting a letter in support of Gougeon’s effort.

Bera Dunau can be reached at

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