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Ambulance company helps vaccinate Boston Higashi School students

The Patriot Ledger - 3/10/2021

RANDOLPH — Students and staff at the Boston Higashi School had high priority for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, but no one to do the vaccinations.

That's when an Arlington-based ambulance company came to the rescue of the private school, which serves 160 children and young adults with autism.

Armstrong Ambulance CEO Rich Raymond heard about the need from a close friend who is a parent of a Higashi School student. While Armstrong doesn't typically serve the South Shore, in this case it didn't matter.

"If someone needs help, you help," Raymond said.

Michael Kelly, the school's executive director, said the coronavirus pandemic has created significant challenges for the school, which has a residential program.

"It is very hard to enforce social distancing, or wearing masks, because some of the students don't understand how important that is," Kelly said.

About 80 percent of the school's students are non-verbal.

In February, ambulance crews and school staff collaborated on giving students and staff their first vaccination. On Friday, March 5 155 staff members and students age 18 and up received their second dose of the Moderna vaccine.

The vaccinations came just after the school experienced a second COVID-19 outbreak. There were no positive results in the school-wide testing last week.

"This is a huge burden off our shoulders," Kelly said. "It gives us hope that the worst is behind us."

The school's curriculum stresses academics, the arts, physical education, technology and social education. Some mainstays of the program, such as the 20-minute school-wide jog have been suspended during the pandemic. Rooms were created to sequester students who displayed COVID-19 symptoms and physical contact was limited.

Group dynamics is essential to the school's teaching, said John Kolwaite, the director of program development and outreach.

"When you are quarantined, it takes away a lot of what we do," he said.

The remaining staff and eligible students will receive their second vaccine doses on Wednesday.

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This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Ambulance company helps vaccinate Boston Higashi School students


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