There’s been a lot of discontent among many parents with the way Guilford County Schools has handled the pandemic.
That discontent ratcheted up a notch this week when one mother reported on social media that her 14-year-old son had been taken into a Guilford County Schools’ site for COVID-19 testing and was given a vaccine without parental consent.
According to the mother’s account on Facebook, her son plays football for a high school team in the Guilford County Schools system, and, recently, multiple players on the team tested positive for COVID-19. In order for the child to return to playing football, he had to take a COVID-19 test and get a negative result.
Her child, she stated, was taken to a testing site set up at Northwest Guilford High School – though the son is not a student there – and that’s when, the mother said, those administering the test stepped way over the line.
She said her son was, without parental consent, given the vaccine.
He “walked in for the covid test, but came out with a Covid vaccine,” the mother wrote in her Facebook post that went viral over the weekend.
“He was made to fill out a form while he was there, but of course [he] isn’t going to read the form before he fills it out,” she added. “He said before he knew it he had a needle in his arm. According to the clinic supervisor on the scene that called me back after I called the school irate, he does not need a parent’s permission for this vaccine.”
On Friday, Aug. 20, the same day the student was given the vaccination, NC Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law a bill that requires parental consent for those 12- to 17-year-olds to get a vaccine that’s being administered under the FDA’s “Emergency Use” provisions.
On Monday, Aug. 23, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine became the first COVID-19 vaccine to get full approval for use for those 16 years of age and older. That vaccine still falls into the emergency use category for those 12 to 15 years of age.
According to the mother, her 14-year-old son did not at any time state to school or medical personnel that he wanted the vaccine.
The supervisor the mother spoke with after the fact told her that her son had filled out the form permitting the vaccination.
“We are not an anti-vax family, but I refuse for an experimental vaccine to be given to anyone in my family without knowing long term side effects,” the mother’s Facebook post read. “How is a 14-year-old able to make medical decisions for themselves????”
On Facebook – and other social media sites – other parents who don’t want their child vaccinated, when learning of the incident, stated that they would now be on guard for – and will tell their children to be on guard for – overzealous medical workers or school officials who are too quick to see students vaccinated.
In Guilford County and elsewhere, parents have clashed over masking and vaccination policies – as well as on other major pandemic decisions, such as when to open up schools for in-person learning. That’s been true for school systems across the country but in Guilford County the conflicts have seemed especially intense.
One group of concerned parents, “Take Back Our Schools,” has been very vocal in its displeasure regarding multiple school system issues during the pandemic. Members of the group have been especially critical of Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras and the Guilford County Board of Education. This latest concern has made matters worse.
One mother, a supporter of Take Back Our Schools, said she has been appalled at the lack of response to parental concerns and said that it sometimes seems as though the school board works for Contreras rather than the other way around.
She also said she believed this latest incident had national news appeal.
School system officials have told the Guilford County commissioners and stated publicly elsewhere that the school system has been trying throughout the pandemic to address responsibly an extremely novel, difficult and costly situation with limited resources. In early 2020, the school system was forced to move over 70,000 students to remote learning on a dime. To this day, there is a great deal of division among parents on issues such as requiring masks or getting students vaccinated.
Janson Silvers, media relations specialist for Guilford County Schools, stated that the school system could not comment on a medical issue pertaining to a particular student and a medical provider. However, he added that the school system does work with various providers by allowing the use of some school sites for testing and vaccinations.
Silvers said school facilities are a good place for the providers to set up and administer services since school sites are often very well known among members of the community and are therefore easy to find.
On Monday, Aug. 23, as word of the incident spread, there was heated reaction from some other parents. “Disturbing” and “unbelievable” were just two of the words of many more used by parents on social media to describe the concerns.
Some parents told the Rhino Times they intend to help the family raise money for a lawsuit. Some blame the medical provider, some blame the school system, and some blame both.