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Amherst school district to require student COVID-19 vaccines

Amherst is believed to be the first district in the state to require its eligible students to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

A car rolls past a town line sign in Amherst, Mass. AP Photo/Charles Krupa


AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — All eligible students in Massachusetts’ Amherst Regional school district will be required to get a coronavirus vaccine that has full federal approval by Dec. 1 to continue attending classes, the school committee voted.

The Amherst Regional School Committee voted 7-0 at its meeting Tuesday to mandate vaccinations, The Daily Hampshire Gazette reported.

The vote came after the Amherst Board of Health on Sept. 9, based on a request from the public schools, added COVID-19 vaccines with full federal approval to the list of immunizations students are required to have. Medical and religious exemptions are allowed.

Amherst is believed to be the first district in the state to require its eligible students to get a COVID-19 vaccination. So far, the only coronavirus vaccine with full Food and Drug Administration approval is Pfizer’s, and only for people ages 16 and older.

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Board member Peter Demling said the decision is about keeping both students and staff safe.

“I hope this pushes the conversation forward across the state,” he said.

The mandate applies mostly to students at Amherst Regional High School and Amherst Regional Middle School, which also serve children from the towns of Pelham, Shutesbury and Leverett.

Ruby Cain, the student representative to the committee, said students are supportive of the mandate.

Teenage vaccination rates in the four towns are already high, according to state data.

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RETURN OF ST. PATRICK

Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is hoping to make a return in 2022 after a two-year hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which organizes the parade, in a brief online statement Thursday said it is now accepting registrations for the March 20 parade that before the pandemic drew an estimated 1 million spectators to the neighborhood.

The March 2020 parade was canceled as a precaution just as COVID-19 was taking a hold on the region.

This year’s parade was canceled because the state still had a limit of 25 people for outdoor gatherings, which has since been lifted.

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