by Julia Wong, Staff Writer, April 2021
“Leadership for the public good.” Nobles has long strived to set a strong example for the student body of how to show initiative and participate in community service. In the midst of a pandemic, the need for selflessness has never been clearer. Just days before March break, the excitement in the air was palpable following the long-awaited announcement about a vaccination clinic on Nobles grounds – an end near in sight. Unfortunately, things didn’t go exactly as planned.
Following the announcement about teacher vaccinations, Head of School Cathy Hall, alongside fellow Nobles administrators, flew into action. “We have unique resources. We have a unique campus. It felt very important that this was one of those moments leading for the public good and how we could make a broader impact,” Hall said. She continued, “I pitched to CVS, who had been a great partner, that they could use our campus to provide as many vaccines as they were willing, and we offered to cover any of the costs.”
Hall aimed to collaborate with six nearby independent schools. Nobles would provide twenty-thousand vaccine doses, bringing these vaccines into the state to be distributed to teachers from local school districts, including the Dedham public schools and Boston public schools. The clinic was set to run the first week of spring break and the second week after returning, but, as we now know, it never came to fruition. Why is that? The answer to most failed initiatives: bureaucracy.
“To say I’m disappointed the clinic didn’t work for faculty is an understatement,” Hall said. She specified, “If we just looked to vaccinate just our own teachers, we probably could have pulled that off. Ironically, by trying to go big, that’s where we got into trouble.”
Less than a week before the clinic was set to take off, the coalition of heroic heads hit a few road bumps. While the state has been understandably strict and methodical in their manner of vaccination, the tale is one far too well known: regulations supersede logic and impede upon the ability to do genuine good.
“It was just frustrating that politics get in the way of good intent,” Hall said. She went on to state, “You end up with people in positions where sometimes that doesn’t necessarily help their cause, and that’s very disheartening.” While aspects of the difficulties cannot be foreclosed, the Nobles vaccination project was shut down and rejected by the state, posing the greater question of how independent schools such as Nobles can serve the greater community when bureaucratic systems refuse to allow it. The proposal of the clinic was atypical, to say the least, yet in the midst of a pandemic, creative approaches are required. Elected officials continue to prevent institutions with resources such as Nobles from contributing to the greater good.
Yet, despite the great disappointment, Nobles has forged on, resorting to their Plan B. “We worked a couple of channels and offered as much support as we could to get people registered,” Hall said, referring to vaccinating the teacher population. “We have enough people vaccinated that we felt we could safely stick with our return date.” While the incident calls into question greater issues with independent schools’ community engagement and the bureaucratic roadblocks thereof, as a community, it’s about time we had the chance to be back together: April 26 will be a nice change of pace.