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Full-Service Pediatric Office Keeping Students Healthy At LEAP Academy University Charter School

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) -- To say it's been a challenge to keep students in school through the pandemic would be an understatement. Despite the challenges, one local school has managed to do just that.

CBS3 went inside LEAP Academy University Charter School for how they did it, as well as some of their special measures like their own full-service pediatric office.

"I'm scared with the virus."

You wouldn't know that school medical director Dr. Velmina Rivera is grieving the loss of loved ones due to the pandemic -- like millions of others.

"I lost my brother in March of 2020," she told CBS3. "He was 73, and my sister followed a week after. It's hard, it's hard."

While she's preparing to administer her first shot for the day, she said patient traffic has more than doubled as the Omicron variant continues to surge

"We went up like 20% more compared to the last 23 months," she said, adding, "When we came back in January, we saw like 60 patients everyday; that includes my patient in the clinic, some students and teachers."

She tends to patients at the health and wellness center on the 10th floor of LEAP Academy University Charter School in Camden.

Stephanie weaver-rogers, chief operation officer/ lead person

"One of the things we noticed in our community is that our families weren't getting is medical care," Stephanie Weaver-Rogers, who is the Chief Operation Officer, said.

Weaver-Rogers said creating this holistic approach extends beyond these walls to some of the city's most vulnerable communities. In turn it's been good for attendance

"This year, we've been a hundred percent in person since the beginning of the school year," she said.

The health center will go pick a child up from class, bring them in for physicals immunizations, and take them back to class. They don't have to miss school, and parents don't have to miss work.

Back on the 10th floor, Dr. Rivera made one last final plea to people to get vaccinated.

"The vaccine will protect you from getting hospitalized or dying," Dr. Rivera said, adding, "If you get it, it will be a mild case."

For more on LEAP Academy University Charter School, click here.

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