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District Faculty/Staff Could Receive COVID-19 Vaccine By Late February

In response to a question from a resident posed at the December 21 Board of Education meeting, schools Superintendent John Ravally announced that the district would be distributing COVID-19 vaccines.

The school district’s faculty and staff could receive a COVID-19 vaccine by late February or March, a district official said on December 22.

That’s because the school district’s application to become a provider site for a COVID-19 vaccine has been accepted, the schools Superintendent announced at the December 21 Board of Education meeting.

The district must now have its plan to provide those vaccines approved by the state.

The plan does not include children – for whom the vaccines have not been approved – nor does it include the families of district employees.

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said the vaccine that will be used will most likely be the Moderna version. There are currently two vaccines – by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech – that have been given emergency approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Moderna vaccine requires two shots given 28 days apart. It’s seen as a bit more accessible because it does not require ultra-low freezer storage, as does the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, that is not readily available.

Its 94 percent efficacy rate is nearly equal to the Pfizer version’s 95 percent.

Ravally said the district probably could not mandate that all employees get the vaccine.

As it stands, the district would only be providing vaccines for district staff, spokeswoman Mary Clark said in an email.

“At this time we have applied to be a facility for our employees,” Clark wrote. “We will see if the regulations require that we open the facility to others.”

In an emailed statement, Brenda Sofield, the district’s director of pupil personnel services, said that although the application has been accepted, “further site visits and training will be required to ensure that all proper protocols and safety measures are in place to conduct the vaccine clinic.”

The state Department of Health, in conjunction with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has established a tiered system of distributing the vaccines. The first tier – those who are most exposed to the coronavirus – is divided into three sections, 1A, 1B and 1C.

Those in the 1B tier include employees in the following areas:

  • First Responders
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Transportation
  • Education/Childcare
  • Energy
  • Water/Sanitation
  • Law Enforcement
  • Government

“Under Phase 1B of the State Vaccination plan, District Staff, who are classified as Essential Workers, will be eligible to be vaccinated,” Sofield wrote. “We anticipate this process to begin by late February or March, given the information that is available at this time.”

Ravally said the district has about 1,100 employees.

“As part of the approval process, the district has collaborated with our School Physician, Dr. Michael Kelly, who has signed on to be our Medical Director for the process,” Sofield wrote. “Additional training and staffing will be provided to ensure a safe and efficient vaccine delivery program, which complies with all state and federal guidelines.”

“The district administration was enthusiastic to connect with the CDC in becoming a provider site, as it will allow our staff the opportunity to easily access the vaccination process,” Sofield wrote. “Through this and other safety measures, the district is working towards a return to in-person instruction for all students.”

The district had resumed its hybrid in-person/remote learning program on November 30, after beginning teh year with complete remote learning.

But an uptick in the number of staff and students becoming infected with the coronavirus, and the number of staff calling out sick for that and other reasons, forced the district to switch back to all-remote learning beginning December 21.

The district expects to return to the hybrid in-person system, on January 19, 2021.

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