RICHMOND (CBS SF) — Everything that’s been upended this year by the COVD-19 pandemic — healthcare, the economy, education — created a need, which was on display in Richmond Thursday as dozens of cars lined up to receive immunizations from the West Contra Costa School District..
“I got here as close to 9 o’clock as I could,” parent Michelle Scheffers said. “It was already forming around the block.”
The line of cars stretched around the block and down the next street, and it stayed that way all day. What did Scheffers think of the turnout?
“That a lot of people need to get stuff done, food-wise and medical-wise,” she says. “Like I said, it’s hard to get in for appointments.”
“We have about 700 students in our school district who still don’t have their basic immunizations due to the covid pandemic and all of these reasons,” West Contra Costa Unified School District Superintendent Matthew Duffy said.
That was the primary goal; get students, and some of their parents, caught up on vaccines, everything from the flu to polio. Then there is food security. West Contra Costa Unified was also handing out Thanksgiving turkeys Thursday, addressing a need that goes back to the very start of the pandemic.
“We served over 4 million meals,” Duffy said. “We’ve given out over 5,000 hotspots. The need is huge in many parts of our community so we have been trying in different ways, and decided, ‘you know, let’s try this.’”
It is a large and continuing set of challenges for the district and the families it serves. How are parents and students faring?
“Not the best,” says student Marlen Villasenor. “I have a lot of trouble paying attention to my work, and my mom always has to be working, so there’s no one to tell me to pay attention.”
“Yeah, it’s a pretty stressful year,” says parent Blaise Chiedjui. “Spending all day at home with children and taking those classes online, it has not been easy.”
Asked about the outlook for the school system, the superintendent says given the rate of increase in cases right now, a return to the classroom is essentially out of the question through early next year.