Jess Machado

THIS GUEST OPINION PIECE BY: Jessica Machado is a freelance writer and former contributor to the Fall River Herald News. She is also a former radio host at WSAR and political blogger.



At last week’s K-8 school committee meeting, Somerset Superintendent Jeffrey Schoonover disclosed that the school district had begun plans to offer a vaccination clinic for students at the middle school this school year. This clinic would be in partnership with Walgreens to help provide and administer the vaccine to students aged 12 and older with parental consent.

I wholeheartedly oppose this plan.

Back in 2017, I began to advocate for the removal of Body Mass Index testing taking place in our schools. The collection of medical data from children should be reserved for the privacy of a doctor’s office and has no business in a classroom setting. While this program has yet to be completely eradicated from our schools, participation is now minimal thanks to a change in policy where opt-out forms are now sent at the start of the school year within the registration packet.

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Earlier this year, I spoke at both our K-8 and regional school committee meetings in opposition to the planned "pool testing" program that the administration showed interest in. This program would have overwhelmed our already lean nursing staff with having to administer COVID-19 tests to students and do follow-up reports and further testing. Like the BMI testing, pool testing would have been done during the school day, amongst peers and taking away time spent on learning. The school district ultimately chose not to participate in the pool testing program.

Like these other programs, this proposed vaccination clinic does not belong in our schools. Medical testing, collection of medical data nor administration of vaccines should not be taking place in an environment where children go to learn. The job of the school district is not to provide medical care to students. The job of the school district is to provide quality education to the residents of our town. Plain and simple.

This is not an issue about being pro or anti-vaccine. I believe every family has a choice to vaccinate their children if they so choose and I believe others have the right to not get vaccinated. I believe that this choice should be a private one that takes place outside of our school buildings, away from peer pressure and learning environments. Alternative locations and times, as well as transportation if needed, could be easily available to students in need with a little planning and support.

I sincerely hope that the school district reconsiders its stance on this very important issue.

Editor's Note: 'SouthCoast Voices' is a series of guest opinions from newsmakers and other people across the region, on relevant issues that directly impact the people of Greater New Bedford and the surrounding communities. The opinions are solely those of the author. If you are interested in contributing, please contact for more information. 

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