Summit School District prepares for vaccine distribution
Although it remains unknown when exactly Summit County will be able to vaccinate essential workers, the Summit School District has begun making distribution plans for its staff.
At a school board meeting Thursday, Jan. 14, the district’s interim Chief Human Resources Director Telisa Reed said nearly all of the district’s 696 employees will be vaccinated.
Currently, only people who are 70 or older and people who work in health care settings are able to be vaccinated. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has said that the state won’t move below the “dotted line” on its Phase 1B plan, which includes essential workers like educators and grocery store workers, until 70% of the current eligible population is vaccinated statewide.
Reed said the district’s list of who will be vaccinated includes people from all sectors of district operations, including bus drivers, long-term substitute teachers and custodians.
“Comprehensively, we got a list of staff and really just looked at each role individually and looked at what their interaction was with our students,” Reed said.
However, the district may not be including teachers who work remotely in its vaccine distribution plan, as those people do not come in contact with students.
While the plan is to vaccinate nearly every employee, how that will happen remains to be seen, as local public health officials are still awaiting guidance from state officials on how to prioritize the essential workers group.
“My interpretation is that (the phase) includes … the entire district staff of what it takes to make schools run,” Public Health Director Amy Wineland said. “We’ll get more clarification as we go on, but that is my interpretation and most of my peers interpretation of what ’educators’ will mean.”
Wineland added that Polis has made it clear he wants to prioritize getting kids back in school, which means educators are a high priority for vaccine distribution.
At the meeting, the district’s Chief Operations Officer, Drew Adkins, addressed the spike in cases across the community due to holiday gatherings.
Adkins said the district is seeing a similar spike in cases among students and staff. Since Friday, Jan. 8, when the district was fully remote, about 30 students and staff have tested positive for the virus.
About 30% of the district’s 212 positive cases since the beginning of the school year have occurred since the end of Christmas break, Adkins said. That number includes people who got sick before returning to school in person.
“We are really a microcosm and reflection of our community — as we see spikes in the community we see spikes in schools,” Adkins said.
Adkins said the district was expecting a spike in cases from the holidays. The district’s efforts to provide testing to students, track symptoms and the state’s changes to quarantine guidelines are all helping keep quarantines from affecting operations at schools, he added.
However, the district is also hoping that those involved with the schools avoid unnecessary gatherings. Wineland said that many of the recent cases have involved people in the school community.
“School is back and people now are excited to see their friends and neighbors and people that they maybe haven’t been seeing in a while, feeling that maybe orange is the new green,” she said. “Really orange is not the new green … We really need everyone to dig deep and find within them what they really value right now for spring and summer to happen in the community.”
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