BY YASIN YOUSUF
Castle on the Hill staff writer
United World College-USA students and employees are benefitting from New Mexico taking a nationwide-lead by vaccinating 38 percent of its adults against COVID-19.
As of the second week of May, 196 UWC-USA students had received their first vaccine and 188 were fully vaccinated, said Kayla Cooper, COVID residential coordinator.
In addition, 96 of the school’s 99 employees are fully vaccinated, said Taylor Gantt, chief finance and operations officer for UWC-USA.
“The vaccine has been offered to all students before they leave in May, and students are responsible for registering with the department of health,” Kayla said.
It’s too late to sign up now because students will not be on campus for the second vaccine, which is given three weeks after the first.
So far, students have not shown any adverse reactions to vaccinations, although minor side effects lasting no longer than a day were reported, she said.
Social guidelines such as fieldhouse and cafeteria capacity will remain in place since most students are not fully vaccinated, Kayla said.
“Any changes to these guidelines will be from the state and the governor’s office, not from the school,” she said.
Vaccinating the majority of the students doesn’t mean things will return to pre-COVID protocols.
“We need to acknowledge that while the campus may be upwards of 95 percent vaccinated, it doesn’t mean other places are,” Kayla said. “So it would be more likely for restrictions to loosen on campus before they’re loosened for off-campus activities. But we need to wait for more guidelines to be released from the governor’s office as it pertains to vaccinated congregate settings and vaccinated individuals before knowing exactly what upwards of 95 percent vaccination means for us.”
It is still unknown if UWC-USA will require the incoming first-year students to be vaccinated, given that many students will come from countries where vaccination is not as accessible as in the United States, she added.