Back to school: What to know about vaccines, mental health and school zone safety

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The El Paso Independent School District, Socorro Independent School District, Ysleta Independent School District and Canutillo Independent School District will welcome students, faculty and staff back for in-person learning on Monday, August 2.

Students ages 12 and up are able to get the COVID-19 vaccine but El Paso Pediatrics says that many have fallen behind on routine vaccines as well since families stayed away from doctors’ offices during the pandemic. Another factor is the waiting period that children would need to wait to get routine vaccines after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but that wait time is changing.

“In the beginning, the recommendation was to wait 30 days between doses if you were going to give another vaccine and then it slowly came down to two weeks and then actually this week they’ve changed the recommendation to allow the COVID vaccine to be given with another vaccine,” said Dr. Rana Kronfol with El Paso Pediatrics.

After having to learn at home and handle the challenges due to the pandemic, some students may be facing mental health challenges.

Dr. Sarah Martin, division director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Texas Tech University Health Science Center El Paso, said students in El Paso County school districts have access to mental health services through their school. The appointments can be accessed through the school counselor but Martin said it is no longer dependent on one person at the school.

“There’s no more just one counselor and that person takes care of everything,” Martin said. “The new model and the State of Texas has put millions of dollars into this model — the new model is to have mental health appointments at your child’s school.”

Another important topic as students wake up early and head to class on Monday is school zone safety.

The EPISD Police Department is reminding drivers to respect school zone speed limits and be alert and ask that parents let their children out of the car by opening the door closest to the curb and not the street.

“We often find that parents are in a hurry and they’ll let their children out on the street side and they’re having to circle around the car or circle in between other oncoming cars and that creates a real hazard,” said Manuel Chavira, EPISD’s Chief of Police Services.

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