I want to thank CHI St. Joseph’s Community Health and the Nevis School for putting any personal opinions or agendas aside to ensure convenient access to the COVID-19 vaccine for those families in our school community who would choose to get vaccinated.

I am proud of our school community and have been impressed with how the Nevis School has navigated this pandemic. Was everything handled perfectly? No. It was their first pandemic, and like most of us, they had to continually adjust to the fast-changing world we were thrown into. So, in hindsight could all of us have done better? Yes.

But one thing I am absolutely certain of is that decisions made by our school leadership were for the safety of the students and staff – not just their physical safety. Just as much thought was put into their emotional well-being and safety.

Unfortunately, a group of people, who are not part of the medical community, made it impossible for our families to participate in this opportunity locally. This group forced their own agenda and personal opinions and took away others' rights to participate in a voluntary vaccination clinic that would be overseen by medical professionals and convenient for the families in our community.

The Nevis School has always been more than just a school. It has been the glue of our small community. The building has been used for community blood drives, sporting events, tournaments, music concerts, art shows and different churches have used the space when they had nowhere else to meet.

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It has been a central space used for community dinners, benefit dinners, community presentations on mental health and drug addiction.

It is used as a daycare center for kids before school, after school, and over the summer.

Over the years, funerals have been held there because there was so much love and support to be shared by the community it was the only space big enough to hold everyone.

It has been used for town hall-style meetings in some election years.

Many of our families choose to participate in the Fall Festival each year or the Cookies with Santa that is held in the building at Christmastime.

I am sad that a small group of loud, demanding people forced their personal agenda on our community. As a result, families were not able to choose convenient access to the vaccine.

It is my hope in writing this letter that our school leadership and staff feels supported and seen. I know how hard you have worked to ensure a safe, productive and supportive environment for our kids, staff, and our community as a whole. You have had to make hard decisions – unpopular decisions – but I believe these decisions were made with our community and students’ best interest in mind.