FARMINGTON -- The Sills family of Farmington will start the school year with all members having received the covid-19 vaccine, except their first grader, who is too young for the shot.
Andy Sills, a teacher in the Farmington School District, has been vaccinated, along with his wife, who is a nurse. Their son, Weston, a senior at Farmington High, and their daughter, Mallory, a ninth grader, received their first Pfizer vaccine Friday during a clinic held at Cardinal Arena.
Sills said they had already planned for their two oldest children to be vaccinated, but with rising cases and the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus becoming more prevalent in Arkansas, they wanted to make sure their kids were vaccinated before school started.
Sills said he feels a lot of confidence in the vaccine and is ready for a more normal school year.
"I think the more normal, the better," Sills said.
Mallory said her eighth grade year was different with covid-19 protocols in place, especially mandated masks, but she got used to the masks. She said she was glad when masks became optional toward the end of the year.
"I was happy to get it (the vaccine) and feel better now that I've had it," Mallory said.
Haily Petrzilka, an eleventh grader at Farmington High, said she was glad to get the vaccine Friday because she can be around family members.
Her grandmother, Catherine Graham, has had the vaccine and she said she wanted it so she could see family members without any concerns.
Haily and her brother both were exposed to covid-19 at school and had to quarantine, but they did not get the virus. Her brother was not at the clinic Friday but Graham said she plans for him to get the vaccine also.
Even though cases have increased in Arkansas the past few weeks, Graham said she does not have any concerns with her grandchildren starting school in August.
With just about a month left before school starts, Farmington schools sponsored the clinic in partnership with Walmart Neighborhood Market and its pharmacy. A steady stream of adults and students showed up Friday during the three-hour clinic. The clinic for the second vaccine will be held Aug. 6.
In all, 42 people received the shot, according to a spokeswoman at the Neighborhood Market pharmacy on Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Stephanie Pinkerton, Farmington assistant superintendent, said the district sent out a letter about the clinic to all parents and students.
Pinkerton said the district did not give an opinion on whether anyone should be vaccinated but wanted to provide information about the clinic and also provide information on the latest policy for how quarantines will be handled for anyone exposed to covid-19.
According to the letter from the district, Gov. Asa Hutchinson has announced that students and staff who have been fully vaccinated against covid-19 will not be required to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus. Those who are not vaccinated and are exposed to the virus will have to quarantine for 14 days, Pinkerton said.
She said the district probably will ask a student or staff member to show proof of the vaccine if they have a direct exposure to someone who has tested positive for covid-19. The district will have contact tracing this year for any students or staff who test positive for the virus.
Masks will be optional this year, Pinkerton said.