Students at Tensas Parish Schools have a more tangible incentive than other area students to get vaccinated against COVID-19. If they get their snaps before Feb. 18, they’ll get a $100 restaurant gift card.
“The president had talked about offering incentives for people to get vaccinated, and so once we started getting some of our federal funds, that was an authorized expense,” said the Tensas superintendent, Paul Nelson. “We want to try to encourage as many of our children as possible to get vaccinated because it helps a lot when it comes to quarantining children.”
Nelson said vaccinated students who are exposed to positive cases but show no symptoms should not be quarantined, which helps them to be able to continue attending classes. Nelson said in early December that about 78 students had been vaccinated, representing 25% of students in the district.
The incentive program is funded through a portion of the district’s emergency relief funds allocated for elementary and secondary schools and will cost a total of $10,000. So far, Nelson said about 35 students have been vaccinated and claimed their gift cards.
Nelson said the program has been successful so far.
“In high school, of course, they’re (excited) because they understand what’s going on,” he said. “In the elementary kids, some of them are a little more reluctant or hesitant. They just know that mom said, ‘Bring it back to us. “”
Continued:COVID in schools: See parishes leading Louisiana in COVID K-12 cases as of Feb. 9
As for parent reactions, most just asked additional questions about how to get involved, Nelson said. Staff and faculty have asked if they can participate, but the program is for students only.
To participate in the program, students must complete a COVID incentive application. Those under 18 must do so with the help of a parent. According to a Facebook announcement from the district, students must be vaccinated by Friday to participate. All forms and proof of vaccination will be processed until March 4.
“We’re trying to encourage masks and hand sanitizer but also vaccinations,” Nelson said. “It’s kind of a two-pronged attack to try to limit our COVID numbers as much as possible.”
Nelson said he originally thought of offering Amazon gift cards as an incentive for vaccinations, but after realizing how much money Amazon was making, he said he wanted to create an incentive that would benefit the local economy. .
All gift cards given out will be for Maria Mexican Restaurant, a local establishment located at the Tensas Parish Library in St. Joseph.
“Amazon and Jeff Bezos already have a lot of money,” Nelson said. “How can we do something that could possibly help local people? And that’s how we came up with the idea of doing local restaurants because that way the money stays here and that’s something that kids can use here locally and help support our local economy.”
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