School districts prepare for vaccinating staff

Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 6:17 PM CST
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WESTON, Wis. (WSAW) - We now know which groups will be eligible to get a COVID-19 shot by March 1.

The Wisconsin DHS said on Tuesday, Jan. 26 they include people in education and child care, facility staff, and residents in congregate living settings like assisted living homes and prisons.

The groups are being prioritized due to an increased risk of exposure or vulnerability to COVID-19.

The March 1 timeline is a little disappointing for some districts in the area, but that’s not stopping D.C. Everest Area School District and Stevens Point Area Schools from preparing to be ready when staff can finally get the vaccine.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a curveball for schools and with Tuesday’s announcement from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), districts are ready for their share of the vaccine.

“We were certainly hoping it was going to be before March 1, but now we’ll gear up for any time after that,” D.C. Everest Area School District Superintendent Dr. Kristine Gilmore said.

Gilmore said their district was hoping to start shots the week of Feb. 1.

They want to vaccinate as many staff as quickly as possible and will have a vaccination clinic at the Greenheck Fieldhouse when the time comes in March.

“I think this is a bit of a delay for all of us because we know it’s essential for us opening schools full time to get our staff vaccinated,” Gilmore said.

After providing science-based info on the vaccine, over 80% of staff are interested in getting the vaccine at D.C. Everest.

Over at Stevens Point Area Schools, over 90% of staff want the vaccination.

“We have some folks who are emailing me daily if they can be made eligible,” Director of Communications Sarah O’Donnell said.

They hope these vaccinations can lead to bringing back students to more in-person learning.

“Some students are succeeding in these models but certainly we have students who are struggling and we want to make sure that as we progress through those steps, that we are doing that as responsibly as possible,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell said they’re in the process of having vaccination clinics on-site for staff and D.C. Everest can’t wait to move forward.

“If we get the call that there are more vaccines or they get through the over 65 population early, we are ready and willing to go,” Gilmore said.

Both school districts believe it’s possible to have students back full time before the end of the school year, but it all depends on the availability of the vaccine and how case numbers are in each area.

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