Summit School District officials talk vaccination plans as educators receive first dose

Dr. Lee Cohen administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Summit County teacher Andrew Moran on Saturday, Feb. 13, at the bus depot in Frisco. Photo by Liz Copan / Studio Copan

On Saturday, Feb. 13, around 200 educators and child care workers received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a drive-thru event at the county’s bus barn in Frisco.

It marked the first time that workers, other than those in health care and first responders, were vaccinated in the county. Of the 200, 132 doses were available for Summit School District employees, including teachers, coaches, custodians, bus drivers and more.

“When we started this wild ride of the pandemic, we were talking about different entrances, hand sanitizer, masks and I just couldn’t wait until the part where we were talking about vaccines,” said Drew Adkins, the district’s chief operating officer, at a school board meeting on Thursday, Feb. 11. “So, hip hip hooray, we are there.”

Saturday’s event was just a small dent in the current phase. At Board of Health meetings throughout the week, public health officials explained that the county has been given much fewer doses than it asked for. It’s going to take some time to vaccinate all of Phase 1b.2, which also includes people age 65 and older and accounts for around 3,000 people in the county.

In the district alone, 502 employees have signed up to receive the vaccine when they can. The district is planning to do weekly vaccination events through the Summit Community Care Clinic, which it chose as its provider for the vaccines.

At the school board meeting, Adkins said whether the district has employees vaccinated through the Saturday drive-thru events or through Summit Community Care Clinic events on Fridays depends on supply.

“Some weeks if it’s less than 130 it will be through the care clinic on Fridays,” he said. “Otherwise it will be on Saturdays.”

When the district has educators vaccinated through the Saturday clinic, those doses will still be originally sent to the care clinic and then shared to public health for the drive.

Telisa Reed, the district’s interim human resources director, also presented data about which schools have the most employees registered to receive a vaccine.

Dillon Valley Elementary and Silverthorne Elementary are the schools with the two highest percentages of the 502 employees that signed up. Each school makes up for almost 20% of the employees that have registered.

At Saturday’s event, all types of staff members were able to be vaccinated. However, special educators, who make up 18.9% of the registered employees, have been leading the pack, Reed said.

“As we prioritize, we know our special educators are working with students who have high health needs,” she said.

Reed added that employees who experience side effects within 48 hours of receiving the vaccine will be able to use paid sick leave through the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act.

Although district officials are excited to be within the new phase of the process, Reed described the past week as a “roller coaster.”

“(Public health) started with zero (doses), then they went to 100, and in 30 minutes they changed to 73 and about a couple of hours later they took me to 50 and I was screaming,” she said. “So we ended up at 132.”

While speaking at the meeting on Thursday, Reed said she was actively helping staff work through technical difficulties with the registration link. Despite everything, the “plan is working,” she said.

After board member Chris Alleman asked if the vaccines mean students may be able to return to full-time in-person learning by the end of the year, Superintendent Marion Smith Jr. said it’s too soon to know.

“Now that we are at this crossroads, that will be a topic of conversation moving forward as to what makes sense,” Smith said. “With the caveat that the schedules that we implemented in elementary, middle school and high school would have to be dramatically shifted.”

Alleman, along with board member Gloria Quintero and president Kate Hudnut, said they would prefer if the schedules stayed the same through the year.

“Logistically, it would be hard to shift for three weeks to go back to in person,” he said. “To be perfectly honest … to me it makes sense to stay the course just from a logistic standpoint.”

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