Safe Steps for Safe Schools
KIPP SoCal Public Schools has partnered with The Salvadoran American Leadership & Educational Fund and 986 Pharmacy to provide our families and communities with another shield of protection against COVID-19.
“As someone who was born and raised in the community where our schools are located, it has been especially important for me to bring vaccine clinics1 to our schools,” said Jessica Maldonado, Family and Community Engagement Manager at KIPP SoCal Public Schools.
“Many of our families [living in multigenerational households] are essential workers and first responders,” shared Ms. Maldonado, as several South and East Los Angeles residents have been heavily impacted by COVID-19. And in the early stages of the pandemic, several of our families were experiencing long wait times at the testing centers and vaccination clinics that were available.
At KIPP SoCal, we also understood that members beyond our school community were facing similar challenges, so we worked to bring resources that could not only help our students and families but also their neighbors and friends.
“I came across people who were confused given the many COVID-19 and vaccine misconceptions, so I continue to do my part by sharing the factual information that I've learned from medical experts,” said Jenifer Castañeda, KIPP parent and community advocate, who has made time to volunteer with local nonprofits focused on keeping the community healthy and safe.
“As information became available about vaccine developments we knew our communities needed a trusted source of information,” added Maldonado. “Through our partnership with UCLA Health and the Office of Supervisor Holly Mitchell, we have hosted bilingual COVID-19 informational webinars where families asked questions about the vaccines, voiced their concerns, and fact-checked information with medical professionals.” Specifically, “having medical professionals who understand the communities we serve continues to be essential,” stated Bera Portugal, Advocacy and Community Engagement Associate at KIPP SoCal.
“Together with our providers, partners, and volunteers, we are successfully bringing the very much needed vaccine clinics to our public schools,” said Portugal. “We are creating access to COVID-19 vaccines for all eligible students, families, and community members, including the Pediatric COVID-19 (Pfizer) for children ages 5-11, plus boosters for those eligible.”
“The community is starting to see hope,” highlighted Mrs. Castañeda, who along with 185 community members attended and socially distanced at the KIPP Philosophers Academy vaccine clinic — our clinic was amongst the first to provide the approved vaccine for children. “I think it’s a great way to give back and uplift our communities, especially during these difficult times! There were a lot of people there,” stressed Mrs. Castañeda as she reflected. “I even notified my Tias about this service. And, the KIPP team hosted everyone with grace and respect.”
“A particular memorable moment that stayed with me was when I saw a mother soothing her six-year-old son and letting him know he was ‘saving lives by getting vaccinated!’ Her son hugged her tightly, pulled up his little sleeve, and asked the nurse to give him his shot,” shared Maldonado.
“Seeing this collaborative, community effort makes me feel great to be a part of KIPP,” said Mrs. Castañeda, with students at KIPP Corazón Academy and KIPP LA Prep. “As a matter of fact, this is what originally brought me to KIPP — the opportunity to closely partner with the schools.” Mrs. Castañeda concluded, “My children know that their parents and their school have their best interests at heart— we are bringing back joy in the community and we are doing this together!”
For our next school-site COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic, check out Safe Steps for Safe Schools. We hope to continue providing access to vaccination clinics to anyone that needs them and, as of now, plan to continue this work until it’s needed or until the end of 2022. To learn more about our community programs, visit www.kippsocal.org.
Special thanks to the Salvadoran American Leadership Educational Fund, Clinica Romero, 986 Pharmacy, UCLA Health, and the Office of Supervisor Holly Mitchell for their COVID community relief efforts.
1. Community members do not need insurance, a social security number, or the need to share their immigration status to get a COVID-19 vaccine.