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Detroit Enterprise Hosts Vaccine Clinics, Hopes to Increase Safety, Awareness

A principal’s educational efforts are most often focused on the students of her school, but when the opportunity arose for Detroit Enterprise principal Emily Gagnon to expand her focus to parents and the surrounding community, she jumped at the chance.
 

Gagnon, with help from school board member David Rudolph and Detroit Change Initiative (DCI) founder Norman Clement, partnered with Wayne State University and Wayne County to hold their first vaccination clinic Dec. 19, 2021.
 
“We had a virtual information meeting with parents of school students first, and I didn’t have a large turnout, which was expected because there is a lot of hesitancy in our community about COVID and this vaccine,” Gagnon said.
 
That first clinic utilized the Wayne County mobile vaccination clinic and was held on a brutally cold day. It only attracted about 20 people, but Gagnon wasn’t deterred. She set up the next clinic for three weeks later, Jan. 9, so people who received their first dose of the vaccine could return for their second shot.
 
Attendance boomed.
 
“We had the news here and had over 100 people,” Gagnon said. “We ended up extending the time by an hour to get everyone taken care of. Word was getting out; it was very positive.”
 
Harsh weather continued to make things challenging, so plans began to take shape to hold the next event inside the school’s gymnasium on Jan. 31.
 
Gagnon sent a flyer about the next clinic to Detroit Merit Charter Academy and Regent Park Scholars, both fellow NHA schools, so they could include their families. More flyers were shared throughout the community.
 
Turnout for the event was excellent. The warmth of the gym made social distancing more comfortable and created opportunities for conversations between all in attendance. Gagnon said she’s open to holding more vaccination clinics in the future.
 
DCI founder Norman Clement credited outstanding work between trusted community partners for making these events happen.
 
“David Rudolph, Principal Gagnon and her staff champion this effort of keeping her children safe,” Clement said. “Parents that may have had to wait two months to get the vaccine from their pediatrician are now able to get their children vaccinated in days. Parents were very thankful and relieved that their children were protected and continued to go to school safely.”  
 
Gagnon said she’s happy to offer the clinics as a community resource not just to students and their families, but to the entire community.
 
“If we take care of the communities, then they’re going to take care of us and my kids, and that’s what’s most important to me – keeping the kids safe and keeping them in school,” Gagnon said about her students. “Kids are having to miss so much school over COVID and I just need them to be here to grow them and get them back to grade level.”
 
Working together for the common good can make a difference.
 
“I’m just really grateful for my school board members,” Gagnon said. “For putting this in my ear and then helping us make this partnership and connection so we can help our families. I really appreciate being able to do this for my school and the community.”
 
Detroit Enterprise is part of NHA, a charter school management company in Grand Rapids, Mich. with 98 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.