MISSION AND MINISTRY | Victor Cisnero, the lead transitional kindergarten teacher at St. Thomas the Apostle elementary school in Pico Heights, is also a full-time graduate student in LMU’s PLACE program. While, he did not feel ready to get the COVID-19 vaccine, because it was available on LMU’s campus, Cisnero decided to go for it. “It was very nice to be on the campus and know that I was at a place that I can trust,” said Cisnero. “It was good to be at a place where I have a common ground. I also align with their mission.”
LMU partnered with the L.A. archdiocese to offer St. Thomas teachers such as Cisnero, who has worked there for the past three years, and other school communities significantly impacted by COVID-19 the chance to be vaccinated on campus. LMU opened the clinic at Burns Recreation Center on Monday, March 8, and since that time, 579 teachers and staff from across L.A. came on campus to receive their first does of the Moderna vaccine.
Dan Hyslop, M.D., was one of the administrators on campus giving out the vaccine. He said it was very much a collaboration of many entities on campus to make the vaccination clinic a success and he is happy to be a part of it. “On a very fundamental level, people had a sense of relief, a sense of ‘OK, I can kind of relax a little bit now,’ you know, whereas before it was just clench.”
Hyslop said that in medical school he learned about the potential of a virus causing a pandemic but living through it has been a completely another matter. “The viruses show we’re all connected, you know we’re only as strong as our weakest link. So, if we all pull in the same direction, we will get through it; but if we start not believing in the vaccines and become divided the virus will exploit that advantage.” He hopes that everyone will receive the vaccine to help the most vulnerable in our society. Hyslop is thrilled that LMU started providing this to Catholic school staff.
During the pandemic year, teachers have juggled adapting to virtual classrooms and that has taken its toll. Cisnero said that he was feeling depressed when the pandemic started but he has done his best for his students. “I had a better mindset when this school year began, because the kids deserve more of me; even though it’s tough, they deserve more.” Cisnero also said this past year has taught him that it is OK to slow down, spend time alone and allow for reflection and prayer in his own home. Cisnero will graduate this year from PLACE this summer and hopes have a life-affirming career as a Catholic school administrator.