The push to get eligible students vaccinated as back to school approaches

As parents and students wait to hear back to school plans from local boards, there's a push to get as many eligible kids vaccinated as possible.

Many teens and doctors agree - the best place for learning as restrictions ease - is in the classroom.

Barrie resident Sandro Fuentes celebrated his twelfth birthday Thursday afternoon by receiving his first COVID-19 vaccine.

"We're going to try to get both doses before school starts so I can have less restrictions," Sandro says.

One focus is trying to avoid another interrupted school year filled with stops and starts, outbreaks and a shift to online learning.

"There's a lot of fallout from kids having been home for so long and stress, anxiety, not socializing." says Dr. Rania Hiram, a pediatrician at RVH. "We need to normalize their lives and just get back to normal as much as we can."

Dr. Hiram says she's seeing an increase in mental health crises in children and eating disorders growing at a rate she's never seen before.

"Sports, extra-curricular activists, socialization outside with their peers, so those are all very important aspects of a child's development," Hiram says.

The local school boards in Simcoe Muskoka have not released a timeline for when families can decide whether returning for in-person learning is right for them.

Barrie's Sperling Drive clinic will be accepting drop-ins from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the rest of this week. View their walk-in schedule on their website.