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School districts in north central Wisconsin say it could be weeks before teachers can get COVID vaccines

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 6:22 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Despite teachers now being eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Wisconsin, staff who choose to get one through their school district could be waiting weeks.

About 80% of Wausau staff told the school district they want the vaccine. They have a plan in place that they coordinated with Marathon County, but it could mid-March before it’s in motion, Director of Human Resources Tabatha Gundrum tells Newschannel 7.

“If we can get 80% of our staff vaccinated, I think we’ll be in really good shape,” Gundrum said.

While teachers become eligible for the COVID vaccine Monday, she says it’s going to take time for supply to match demand.

“I have heard from many staff members who are interested and wanting to move this process forward fast,” Gundrum said. “I think they’re really relieved that they’re eligible. They’ll feel a lot better when they actually get shots in arms. And many of them, when they do contact me, they’re just a little frustrated, like ‘we wish we could get it faster,’ but they understand.”

The district is hoping to start the week of March 15th. But it’s all based on supply to their partner, Aspirus.

“There’s an outside chance they may start getting educators vaccines the week of the 8th, which is next week already. And if they call us and say they have them, we will have staff in their offices probably within an hour,” she said.

Aspirus is already vaccinating school nurses and Special Education staff, who qualified along with healthcare workers.

“They do provide, in many cases, medical types of services for students, whether that’s tube feeding or toileting,” Gundrum said, explaining that social distancing can also be hard when they provide specialized care.

Their plan for other staff to get vaccines will follow where they’ve seen the most COVID cases. They’ll work from high school staff down to the elementary staff.

“We looked at our student positive case data, since the beginning of the school year, and we put our order based on the exposure likelihood in those levels,” she said.

A Stevens Point Area School District official says they surveyed staff and found about 74% want to be vaccinated through the school. They say the earliest their staff will get vaccinated is mid-March.

A Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools official says the earliest their staff will be vaccinated is mid to late March.

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