Missouri schools discuss how to vaccinate teachers, staff

COVID Vaccine Updates

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri school districts are preparing to vaccinate teachers and staff beginning later in March 2021.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) sent out recommendations on how schools and local vaccinators should prepare.

“If you’re going to do it during a school day time period, you’re probably going to want all hands on deck in terms of as many subs as you can have available,” said Doctor Kari Monsees, the deputy commissioner of DESE. “I know that’s a challenge for us this year, even more so than a normal year.”

A survey went out to school districts Tuesday, March 2, asking how each plan on handling vaccinations: if districts will host clinics for its teachers or leave it p to each employee to make an appointment.

The DESE said each Missouri school will determine if it will grant leave to teachers to get the COVID-19 vaccine during school hours.

Extra virtual days for classes might already be used up due to extreme weather, but schools could request to cancel in-person classes to vaccinate many teachers at once.

Concerns were raised over whether it is fair to host clinics for only one of many groups included in tier three; the state says it is allowed. However, local vaccinators should not prioritize all of their weekly doses to vaccinate only teachers for only one large employer.

“We want to make sure that they leave some room to be able to vaccinate those continuously that have high risks of mortality,” said Adam Crumbliss, director of the Division of Community and Public Health with the Department of Health and Senior Services. “This is not a light switch that suddenly overnight vaccine is going to be available in plentiful fashion and every teacher in Missouri suddenly on March 15th is going to be vaccinated.”

Springfield-Greene County’s acting director Katie Towns said the Health Department is looking at ways to vaccinate large groups of essential workers in one day.

“We are even working on a pilot to test our modal,” said Towns. “What we would really like to be able to do is to do some outreach and set up some points of distribution through large employers where there is that clinical availability on-site.”

Towns said as of March 3, about 15% of Greene County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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