AASA, The School Superintendents Association, in partnership with the Merck (MSD Inventing for Life) Foundation has developed a comprehensive toolkit for educational leaders to address the decline of vaccination rates of students resulting from the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Data suggest that the percentage of children receiving required vaccinations (i.e., the seven-vaccine regimen required for entrance to public education) has decreased by 14% during the pandemic and related school closures. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “During the COVID-19 pandemic, children have missed routine well-child care and related vaccinations.
If [these] rates decline below levels to maintain herd immunity, dangerous outbreaks of preventable diseases could follow.” This toolkit is available to superintendents, school boards, executive staff, school-based administration and teachers, as well as families and community members. A major priority of this is to ensure that superintendents and other district leaders have the knowledge, skills, and resources to address this challenging national health issue. Key principles underlying this initiative include:
• Ensuring maximum distribution of the toolkit;
• Promoting cross-institutional partnerships and communities of practice (including school districts, schools, state and local governments, health agencies, and community advocacy groups) to implement toolkit-related recommendations and strategies;
• Disseminating vaccination rate updates and data; and
• Sustaining the work beyond the one-year grant-funding cycle to ensure growing levels of vaccination rates within communities and regions (especially those most severely impacted by scarcity of access to available health services).
A Message from Dan Domenech
AASA, The School Superintendents Association
We are at a crisis point in public education in the United States. Without question, our shared commitment to supporting the whole learner requires that in addition to students’ cognitive-academic growth, educators must also approach learning holistically and ensure that all students are safe, healthy, and perceive themselves as a viable part of the school’s learning community. To support that critically important goal, AASA is extremely
pleased to share with educational leaders our latest publication, “Addressing the Decline of Vaccination Rates of U.S. Students: A Toolkit for Educational Leaders.”
This toolkit is designed to provide practical guidance, recommendations, and resources to ensure that all
students receive vaccinations required for entry into school in a timely and efficient way. As the summary below will highlight, the recent pandemic has resulted in a troubling decline in vaccination rates, especially for minority and economically disadvantaged students. We sincerely hope that superintendents will be able to use the six modules in this new toolkit to increase understanding of the vaccination crisis, analyze its implications for your school or district, and use the rich range of resources as part of ongoing professional learning and parent, family, and community outreach. Thanks to each of you for your ongoing and tireless commitment to students and their well being.
Read the full message here. [PDF]
The Urgent Need for Catching Up—Understanding the Implications of Declines in Childhood Vaccination Rates Resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic
This first module sets the tone and focus of the entire toolkit, reinforcing the urgent need to ensure that all students receive required vaccinations. It also sets the stage for vaccinations to be seen by educators and the public as an essential issue of equity. Module One addresses the impact of the pandemic upon students’ health, psychological development, academic performance, and attendance. It also includes an exploration of the long-range implications of the pandemic and related vaccination declines upon future academic growth and social-emotional well-being of members of the learning organization.
Strategies for District and School Leaders to Increase Staff Understanding of Lowered Vaccination Rates and Their Impact on the Learning Organization
It is essential that all staff members understand the significance of declining vaccination rates upon student growth and development, health and well-being, and academic progress. This priority is an essential one for district and school leaders, especially in light of the emergence of this unanticipated issue resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and related school closures. Therefore, this module will concentrate upon a range of ideas for professional engagement and learning, including ideas for workshops, study groups, action research, and communities of practice working on identified problems related to lowered vaccination rates.
Addressing the Needs of Parents and Families: How Can Leaders Engage
Them in Addressing Lowered Vaccination Rates?
This module will focus upon parents and families in general (i.e., the universal implications of lowered vaccination rates), emphasizing the critical importance of educational leaders engaging in outreach and information dissemination about declining vaccination rates among children. It is essential that parents and families are well informed about this crisis—and that they understand the services and resources available to them. The module will also explore the implications of declining vaccinations as an equity issue severely impacting certain demographic and economic groups in urban and rural areas where
access to medical care and facilities may be a major impediment to ensuring student health and well-being.
Building Cross-Institutional Partnerships to Develop and Sustain School & District-Level Vaccination Clinics
This module showcases the importance of building effective community partnerships as an essential component of addressing declining student vaccination rates. It emphasizes the major implications of such partnerships for addressing problems of practice in general—and the critical need for community representation in efforts to increase vaccination rates. The module emphasizes the power and significance of Communities of Practice as collaborative structures to identify and address significant problems of practice facing schools, districts, and regions. A major focus of this module is the critical importance of streamlining student and family access to vaccination clinics, including examples of state and district efforts to create school-based and community-centered vaccination and health service clinics.
Communication and Engagement Strategies: Promoting Community and District Support in Increasing and Sustaining Student Vaccination Rates
This module extends and refines ideas and strategies presented in previous models related to community and district outreach and support. It provides a detailed set of recommendations concerning communication priorities and strategies as a district moves through the inevitable stages of change associated with developing and sustaining school-level vaccination clinic initiatives. The module organizes these ideas around four key phases: (a) Initial Program Design and Preliminary District and Community Outreach; (b) Development of Initial District- and School-Level Vaccination Clinics; (c) Scaling Up and Expanding Vaccination Initiatives and Programs; and (d) Ensuring Sustainability and Anticipating Future Vaccination Priorities and Needs.
From Getting Started to Sustaining the Journey: A Comprehensive
Planning Guide for Ensuring Vaccination Equity & Student/Family
Access to Vaccination-Related Health Services
This module provides a comprehensive planning guide for superintendents and other district leaders committed to ensuring vaccination equity. It provides suggestions and a planning grid for the four key phases of vaccination clinic development: (a) Initial Program Design and Staff/Family/Community Outreach; (b) Development of District- and/or School-Level Vaccination Clinics; (c) Scaling Up and
Expanding Vaccination Initiatives and Programs; and (d) Ensuring Sustainability and Anticipating Future Vaccination-Related Priorities and Needs. The planning matrix includes performance indicators
for each of the four phases of program implementation as well as space for indicating artifacts and deliverables, individuals responsible for leading each phase, data collection and evaluation of outcomes, and a timeline for each key component.