In late March, BHS science teacher Marion Boa walked into the DoubleTree Hotel in South Burlington to receive her first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. There, she was directed to a ballroom-turned-clinic attended by volunteers sporting a combination of national guard uniforms and VT flannel. Soft 80’s rock music played as she sat down in a chair and waited her turn.
Now, as of June 1, Boa is fully vaccinated.
“I was really excited because I have not seen my family in a long time,” Boa said. “I also knew that of my cohort of people that I am close with in Burlington, I was the one coming into contact with the most people so I was not seeing people often.”
BHS librarian Shannon Walters shared a feeling of relief.
“Every day I went to school there was a risk of bringing something home to my family,” she said. “That was nerve-racking. Particularly in the library because we see so many students.”
A month later, BHS students became eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine. The Vermont Department of Health opened vaccine appointment registration to anyone 16-18 years of age on April 17, and anyone 12 years and older on May 11.
Many students took this opportunity.
Rory Stein received his first vaccine on April 25th at the CVS in Colchester.
“I was counting down the days,” BHS junior Rory Stein said. “This has been going on for so long and the light is at the end of the tunnel. I can see it.”
BHS junior Safiya Ibrahim received her vaccine the same week.
Ibrahim shared her concern for her relatives during the pandemic and is thankful for the availability of the Covid-19 vaccine in the United States.
“I was anxious,” she said. “I have a lot of elders in my family. I was more scared for my grandma and my uncle. My uncle had cancer. At a point in time, they were exposed to Covid and that really scared me.”
Due to swift vaccine distribution, the CDC reported May 26 that 77.6% of Vermonters 12+ had received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
For this reason, and in line with the CDC guidelines, Governor Scott has announced July 4 as the date by which social distancing and masks are no longer required in public.
“I don’t want to be cliché and say I am looking forward to ‘going back to normal,’ but that’s really exciting,” Ibrahim said.
While many students and faculty are eager to leave the pandemic behind, this transition period invites people to reflect on their experiences and consider lessons learned to remember moving forward.
Most commonly, students and teachers expressed a better understanding of human relationships.
“Regardless of how seriously you take the pandemic and how deeply the pandemic has affected anyone personally, I cannot imagine how anyone comes out of the pandemic without subconsciously internalizing how deeply connected our lives are to each other,” sophomore Veronica Lindstrom said. “Our decision can save or take away somebody’s life. That’s a drastic and heavy thing to think about.”
Boa said that she noticed that she prioritized visiting only the people with whom she wanted to hang out during the pandemic.
“The pandemic made all of us re-evaluate the connections that we have,” Boa said. “Are our relationships healthy and important?
Quarantine also allowed many students and faculty to self-reflect.
“I am grateful for the positive experience I had,” Ibrahim said. “I learned that I like to be alone. In school, I am always caught up in things and so stressed and I got a break from that last year.”
Vaccine distribution marks the end of a year plagued by the Covid-19 pandemic. The past year was one defined by stress, frustration, despair, and uncertainty. At the same time, the change of pace gave many people an opportunity to reconsider their values.
While all that was lost will not be forgotten, the world will move on with a new perspective and renewed strength.
“This was a hard year,” BHS science teacher, Brian Hoffman said. “Pulling through gives me hope.”