By Ingrid Lackey-Howell, intern reporter

In years past Harwood Union High School has organized two blood drives for the Red Cross, one in the spring and one in the fall. The fall blood drive was canceled because of COVID-19. The blood drive is hosted by Harwood in the middle school gym and planned by the student government.

With help from service group Interact, the Harwood Student Government scheduled this spring’s blood drive at St. Leo’s Parish in Waterbury from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on April 28.
“Interact, is a service group. Everything they do is community-service oriented,” explained Ellen Berrings, the advisory coordinator and employment specialist at Harwood.

Students can still volunteer, but there are less spots available. Student government will have a lunch table set up in the high school cafeteria where those eligible to volunteer can sign up. Informational posters for the community have just arrived, and Berrings said they will be up shortly around town. These will have sign-up information.

To donate blood, people must be in good general health and feeling well, weigh at least 110 pounds and have not donated blood in the last 56 days. In addition, students 16- or 17-years old need parental consent before they can donate blood. Additional height and weight requirements apply for donors who are 18 years or younger, as well as all high school students.

There will be the standard social distancing and sanitizing protocols during the event. People will need to schedule a specific time to donate, and they ask that they don’t come too early to ensure social distancing.

Berrings is in contact with those from the Red Cross running this year's blood drive. They’ve told her there's a lack of blood drives happening because of scheduling during a pandemic, but also nervousness from people who want to stay away from COVID. It is common for schools to sponsor blood drives, but with school closures and restrictions, the Red Cross has not been hosting blood drives as often. “The Red Cross is being incredibly cautious (with COVID-19 protocols),” Berrings said.

This year, the Red Cross will be screening for COVID-19 antibodies. Donors whose plasma has virus antibodies can help those recovering from COVID-19.