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Not Vaccinating Your Kid? Thanks for Being Part of the Problem!

Posted by on in Education Leadership
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Recently, the Center for Disease Control released a report stating there was a 300% spike in individuals getting infected with measles. You can read the full report at https://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html . As a parent and as a former Superintendent of Schools, I find this incredibly disturbing. It is my opinion that this 300% spike could have been 100% avoided.

As a Superintendent of Schools, I enforced the New Jersey law of “no shots, no school”. There was one significant exemption to the law; you can write a letter to the district stating you decline to have your child vaccinated (for any disease) for religious reasons. It has been my experience that a majority of the letters submitted were because parents could not afford the shots or did not have the time to get the student vaccinated. In both cases, we attempted to accommodate the issue. We distributed a myriad of information on where and when you can get free vaccinations in town or in the county. We arranged free vaccinations through the county health department. We even brought in our district physician (every NJ district has one) to the school to administer shots to students and staff. We would try to provide any reasonable means to ensure that students attending school in the district could have access to vaccinations. Yet, there were still parents who declined.

Being a parent, I fully understood the right to the parent’s primary objective in advocating for your child. Should religion truly be at the forefront of your concerns, I would never hold that against you. Yet upon speaking to scads of religious leaders, I have not come across any religious leader or representative who said getting a vaccination would be interfering with their faith.

Before parents would turn in the letter, I would remind them of the one caveat of submitting such; as the Superintendent of Schools, I am allowed to prohibit your child from attending school, at any time, for any amount of time should there be an illness “floating around the school” or an outbreak of anything. You read that right; if there is a cold that’s being passed around, I can keep your child at home for as long as I see fit. The reason for such is simple in that your child is much more likely to not only become ill but can experience more complications from the illness. I recall one instance in which I kept a student out for 3 weeks because half of the class had a virus. After the third week, the parent had their child vaccinated with no objections. We also had policies in place where if a parent was not vaccinated, they would not be permitted to volunteer in any school activity where there is interaction with others.

In sum, based on the aforementioned report and seeing first hand what can happen to your children if you don’t vaccinate, it is paramount that you have your child (and yourself) vaccinated. These are not random shots or an experiment; this is clinical medicine that has proven results that keep your child safe. This is a work of science, not a work of science fiction. Your child being unvaccinated puts your child and all those who interact with them at risk. As the Chief Education Officer for all those who attend and work in the district, it is my chief responsibility to keep all safe. No learning can or will take place if the basics (i.e. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) can’t be fulfilled. Enough of the fake news and superstition; it’s time to participate in our society in a safe manner for all so we can continue to grow, learn and move onward.

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Jay Eitner is a proud product of the New Jersey public schools. A graduate from Union High School in 1997, Jay attended The American University in Washington DC with a BA in interdisciplinary studies. He began his teaching career in Roselle, NJ teaching a variety of subjects including social studies, computers, and digital literacy. Known for being ‘outside of the box’ and for strong technology infusion, Eitner strived to make a learning environment that was student-centered, data-driven, and technology infused. Jay received his Master's Degree from Kean University in 2004 and was hired to teach 8th-grade social studies in the nationally recognized East Brunswick Public Schools. During his time in East Brunswick, Eitner has written & received over $140,000 in grants for his students. Grants ranged from podcasting equipment to creating a fully-interactive gold-rush experience, where students dug for gold during their westward expansion unit. Jay obtained his supervisor, principal, and school administrator certificates from the NJPSA NJ-EXCEL program in 2009. Administratively, Eitner has served as a middle school Assistant Principal in the Washington Township Schools, a K-12 Supervisor of Social Studies in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District, and a Superintendent of the Lower Alloways Creek School District. Jay currently serves as a Superintendent of Schools for the Waterford Township School District. He has presented a series of workshops on digital leadership, technology infusion, and student achievement. Recent awards include the 2015 national Educators Voice Award in the category of Superintendent, the White House MakerSpace distinction, and named to the National Academy of Arts & Sciences as a 2016 Educator To Watch.