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“How can we implement a policy that promotes COVID-19 public health awareness to the students of the Back of the Yards community?”

Author: ​Andrea Zaragoza

Department: UIC Institute for Policy & Civic Engagement

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE


The lack of a high-school COVID-19 health curriculum allows for misinformation to spread. Students are unfamiliar and uninformed about the virus, which affects their perception of vaccination and lessens their ability to protect themselves and their families.Data reflect Black and Brown students are less likely to be vaccinated than their White counterparts. Students of color and their families are hesitant about receiving the vaccine.The current research problematizes youth health disparities in Chicago, specifically on the North and South sides, representing polarized segregated racial groups living on each side. The Back of the Yards is a predominately LatinX Chicago neighborhood located on the South Side, with a low rate of youth immunization against COVID-19. My research aims to explore high-school students’ awareness of the COVID-19 vaccination and their willingness to be vaccinated. Currently, there is no COVID-19 vaccine education curriculum in place. The scope of my research is to use survey data from Increase the Peace, a community organization catering to the needs of the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Upon analyzing data, policy recommendations involve the Illinois State Board of Education Health Education K-12 Curriculum for the inclusion of COVID-19 awareness or future pandemic health education for youth.

Keywords: COVID-19 Vaccines, Students, Southside, Chicago, Back of the Yards, Schools, Awareness, Policy, Curriculum