By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – Thousands of children ages 5 to 11 have received their first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Denver Public Schools is making it easy for families to get fully vaccinated. Denver Health, in partnership with DPS, is hosting several vaccination clinics at no cost to students.

DPS Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero joined hundreds of students at Tuesday’s vaccine clinic at West High School.

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“These clinics are allowing us to stay open, making sure schools are safe and secure,” said Marrero. “We expect to see mom, dad, or a guardian with the youngsters as well, to make sure they’re supported, give their consent and make sure they are well informed.”

Some DPS students opted not to return to in-person learning this year. Marrero says some chose to stay remote out of COVID safety concerns, but hopes DPS’ accessible clinics might have other families reconsidering coming back to class.

“In terms of those who have some hesitancy, I’m hoping that this vaccine event and others will allow them to feel safe to come on board to do what we do best, which is a teaching person,” said Marrero.

DPS students and staff are off Friday. Marrero told CBS4 it’s a mental health day and a “thank you” from DPS to its staff.

“It’s day-to-day operations that we’re looking to see if we can sustain in terms of our students being safe and secure outside of the illness in terms of supervision, which is a struggle all year long,” said Marrero.

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He hopes families might consider using this opportunity to get vaccinated.

Families at Tuesday’s vaccine event were excited to get vaccinated. One mother said it’s a step closer to visiting their grandmother for Christmas. Her 11-year-old daughter told CBS4 it’s a step closer to using her locker.

The lockers at her school are shared and have been off limits during in-person learning.

“I already broke my backpack because I had to carry so much around!” she told CBS4’s Tori Mason.

Students vaccinated at Tuesday’s clinic should return on Dec. 7 for their second dose. They’ll be fully vaccinated by the start of DPS’ Winter Break.

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Find more information on DPS Vaccine Clinics.

Tori Mason