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'Really exciting': Altoona 7-year-old halfway back to in-person learning after receiving first vaccine dose

Once Lucy Castelline gets her second shot, she'll get to go back to school in-person for the first time since the pandemic hit.

ALTOONA, Iowa — In a few weeks, one 7-year-old will be inside of a classroom for the first time since before spring break of 2020.

Lucy Castelline did virtual school for the rest of last school year, and this fall she's homeschooled under Southeast Polk's Home School Assistance Program (H.S.A.P.).

The program allows Lucy to do the same work as her peers, but from home. Her mom, Laura Castelline made that decision based on the lack of a mask mandate at the school, rising COVID-19 cases and—until recently—vaccines not being available for kids under 12.

Laura said the only way Lucy could go back to school was if she got vaccinated. On Monday, Lucy received her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine, putting her halfway there. 

Laura said it was a little difficult to watch her daughter get the shot but knew the pain was worth it. 

 "I know long term this is going to help, so we're going to do this instead of getting sick," Laura said. 

When she found out her daughter was going to get the shot last week, Laura started having conversations with Lucy's school about how to have her return in person.

When Laura went to pick up Lucy's school work Monday, which she receives under the H.S.A.P, there was a note from a teacher to Lucy welcoming her back.

"It's really exciting for me because one of the things I feel like she's been missing is just that interaction with kids her own age, and just being able to go out, run around and not wear a mask," Laura said.

Lucy's will go back the week of Dec. 13, after her second shot. 

She's excited to meet new friends, go shopping with her mom and do some after-school activities, like karate lessons.

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