ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) —  Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman praised the county’s public schools for mandating all teachers, support staff and high school student-athletes get vaccinated or tested weekly by November 22nd.

He wants the mandate to go beyond that.

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“I am looking forward to the day when either the federal government, the state government or our school board makes a decision that covid vaccines will be added to the list of vaccines that are required for kids to come to school. I believe that’s coming. It can’t come soon enough. When we do that I believe that we will be able to make some serious progress and beat this virus once and for all,” Pittman said at a news briefing Tuesday.

“For the student-athletes in particular it’s going to keep them healthy and on the field,” said Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, the county’s health officer.

Joshua Mondor played soccer when he was in high school in Anne Arundel County. He told WJZ while he supports vaccines, mandating them for student-athletes goes too far.

“I got the vaccine too, but I’m not a huge fan of the mandate because some people don’t want to get it. Some people have reactions to it,” Mondor said.

It comes as 1,092 students and 21 staff members are now in quarantine in Anne Arundel County Public Schools, almost double last week’s numbers. 170 students and 14 staff have active COVID—19 cases.

Natasha Freeman has two children in the county’s school system. She told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren she agrees with the latest vaccine mandates.

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“One of my children is disabled. I feel safer for them going to school with vaccinated people. I’m vaccinated,” Freeman said. “If the teachers have to be vaccinated, the students should be vaccinated too.”

She praised the school system’s actions as they work to prevent new infections. “The county sends out emails. They don’t let them get on a bus without masks. They don’t let them come in the school without their masks. They’ve been pretty good with us so far,” she said.

The county’s school board meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday and will be open to the public. All attendees must be masked and are “subject to normal space limitations in the board room” school officials said in a statement.

Pfizer said this week that its vaccine is safe in children ages 5 to 11. Pfizer is seeking federal government authorization to administer it to them.

https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2021/09/20/parents-react-after-pfizer-announces-its-covid-19-vaccine-is-safe-for-children-between-the-ages-of-5-to-11/

The shots are given at one-third the adult dose. Anne Arundel County’s health officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman said Tuesday he is now preparing for when those younger kids can get the vaccine.  The county will work with schools, pharmacies and pediatricians. “We expect an increase in demand for vaccines,” he said.

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Currently, only those 12 and older can get vaccinated.