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'You are going to have to take extra steps to be safe' | Vaccinated Clayton 8th grader reflects on year

13-year-old Judah Whaley just took the PSAT. His class is one of the first to resume in-person testing after it was widely delayed or canceled due to the pandemic.

ATLANTA — After the CDC approved the COVID-19 vaccine for five to 11-year-old's, many kids who already got the shot, like 13-year-old Judah Whaley, have chosen to set an example for their younger siblings. 

Judah said he's talked with his 9-year-old brother Jonah about the importance of being protected and getting the vaccine.

"I know it won't be a problem for him," Judah said. "He was there with me when I got [my shot]. You just have to learn to live with the fact that sometimes you are going to have to take extra steps to be safe.” 

Nearly halfway through his 8th-grade year, Judah is still learning to balance being a kid in a global pandemic, and just being a kid.

“We recently took the PSAT," the Clayton County 8th-grader said. "It was kind of refreshing to take a paper test.”

During the pandemic, standardized testing was delayed or canceled.

RELATED: SAT put on hold for students facing crucial deadlines.

Judah's class is one of the first to resume in-person testing.

"It seems kind of monumental," he said. "If you're living right now experiencing this, then it's sort of like you're living through history. You may even be making history right now.”

Monumental is a good word for the year he’s conquered.

Judah is one of two students featured in the 11Alive series The Learning Curve, checking in every few weeks on how the students are handling and navigating the unprecedented 2021 school year. 

We first met Judah at the beginning of the school year, as he prepared to return to school after more than 500 days of virtual learning.

From quarantining after a COVID-19 outbreak in his school hallway, another on his football team, to getting the vaccine when it was approved for his age group, Judah has already dealt with many ups and downs. 

"I've learned that emotionally, you just got to stay strong," he said. 

When it comes to young people, the state of Georgia is seeing big improvements in Coronavirus case numbers.

In late August, the state saw a peak of 11,853 cases in one week among 11 to 17-year-olds. 

As of early November, Georgia's averaging under 1,000 new cases a week in that age group.

Judah said he’s seeing that reflected at school, with fewer and fewer cases reported among his classmates.