CPS’s Vaccine Policy: Is the Pandemic Really Over?

Madeline Nohrnberg and Alma Barak

“If my dad gets COVID again, he will probably have to be hospitalized,” Austin Saini ’25 told the Register Forum. “I don’t want this to kill my father.”  

Three years after school shutdowns, over 72% of 103 CRLS students surveyed by the Register Forum believe the COVID vaccine should be mandated to attend school. This is not the current reality, but CPS does require that students ages five and up be vaccinated against COVID in order to participate in before and after school activities. 

While some believe this policy is necessary to protect the community from COVID, others feel that schools should not be the deciding factor in whether or not students receive the vaccine. 

Zakhai Akiba ’26 expressed to the Register Forum, “No one should be forced to get a vaccine to participate in something. It is their choice to not want to get vaccinated and their personal decision shouldn’t affect their life inside of a school building.”  

  Others, like Saini, fear the current policy doesn’t protect vulnerable populations. “My dad has long COVID, and he told me the other day that he feels like he’s aged 20 years in six months,” he detailed. “

Nearly 50% of the students also believe that CRLS is not protecting its vulnerable populations.

41% of the students surveyed agree, believing that the current policy is not strict enough. Nearly 50% of the students also believe that CRLS is not protecting its vulnerable populations. This includes those who are immunocompromised, young children and the elderly. Vulnerability has been proven to be common: a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that four in 10 adults have an increased risk of becoming seriously ill if infected with COVID. 

Youth, such as Max Leiserson ’26, can be immunocompromised as well. He reported to  the Register Forum, “I feel personally safe [at school], but there are definitely other people who are more high risk than I am, who don’t feel safe because people just aren’t vaccinated.”  

While the majority of CRLS students believe the policy should be stricter, a national trend of loosening pandemic restrictions is emerging. In New York State, the requirement that masks be worn at hospitals was recently dropped. A handful of Cambridge policymakers believe that we should reassess our pandemic measures as well. 

José Luis Rojas Villarreal, a Cambridge School Committee member, hopes to review CPS’s current policy. “We should not keep a policy indefinitely,” he said to the Register Forum. “We should have a clear sense of when it should go away, given that it was an emergency-focused policy.”

While CPS’s COVID vaccine policy is currently under review by Cambridge medical professionals, parents, and educators, some students believe that there are alternative measures beyond vaccines. Those interviewed offered solutions ranging from social-distance-friendly lunch spaces to free N95 masks and regular testing.

“We have a ways to go,” Flynn Le Febvre ’23 said. “We should keep being safe, until we know that people aren’t going to just keep dying.”