Coronavirus: Clark County starts K-12 educator vaccinations

A member of the Northeastern High School staff gets the COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Salimah Berrien in the Clark County vaccine distribution center at the Upper Valley Mall Wednesday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
A member of the Northeastern High School staff gets the COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Salimah Berrien in the Clark County vaccine distribution center at the Upper Valley Mall Wednesday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Roughly 1,300 K-12 school district employees across Clark County received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday in an effort to get all students back into the classroom full time.

The Clark County Combined Health District in partnership with the Clark County Educational Service Center, county superintendents and administrators began giving the first half of 2,700 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to K-12 school district employees Wednesday. The remaining half of the doses will be given to staff on Saturday.

Patricia Blair, an English teacher at Springfield High School, said she was among the first to sign up to receive the vaccine within Springfield City School District. She called her decision to opt-in a “no brainer.”

“To me, getting the vaccine is the responsible thing to do, not only for myself, but for my family, my students and my coworkers,” Blair said. “It will help me stay healthy and allow me to safely interact with my family and friends as well as continue to teach in person and provide the consistency I know my students need.”

Blair said she believes as educators, “the most important thing we do is to lead by example.”

“By showing our students we have trust in the scientific community and sending the message that we will do what it takes to get not only our lives but their lives back to some semblances of normalcy, we can be one of the forces that turns the tide on this epidemic,” Blair said.

Tecumseh Local School District Superintendent Paula Crew said she made the decision to be vaccinated in order “to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and get students back in the school setting full time as soon as possible.”

“We had a survey that we distributed to our staff members and approximately 70% of our staff indicated that they would come out and get the vaccine. I’ve seen a lot of (Tecumseh) arrows here at the clinic and a lot of other staff members from other districts as well,” Crew said. “So, I think it’s a great step.”

Tecumseh has in-person learning four days a week throughout February and then plans to resume full-time in the classroom the week of March 1.

About 500 schools across the state begun vaccinating K-12 school staff last week as part of an effort to bring most students back to in-person or hybrid learning by March 1. Gov. Mike DeWine said the state’s goal is to have all school personnel who want the vaccine to have received their shot by the end of February.

“We are already really seeing a change,” DeWine said on Tuesday. “We’re seeing a movement from remote learning to being back in the classroom.”

As of the first week of January, 219 schools were fully remote in the state compared to 35 as of this week.

Christina Emberton, a teacher in the Tecumseh district, said she opted into getting the vaccine because she’s been looking forward to going back to school full time and knows vaccinations are the best solution for helping reach that goal.

“I know that we can do that safely through receiving this vaccine,” Emberton said.

Stephanie Lange, a teacher within the Clark-Shawnee Local School District, said she feels the same about receiving her vaccine.

“I teach choir. So, we’re in the higher risk area for (COVID-19). So it’s really important for me to get it to keep myself safe, but also my family safe,” Lange said. “But also, to get rid of this stupid virus.”

Clark County had 11,815 cases of the coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Ohio Department of Health. The county also had 286 deaths and 13 probable deaths, according to data from the CCCHD.

As of Wednesday, 14,309 vaccination shots have been given out in Clark County, according to ODH. That’s about 10.67% of the county’s population.

Coronavirus daily cases remained under 4,000 in Ohio for the sixth straight day Wednesday as the state’s hospitalizations continue to decline, according to ODH.

Ohio recorded 3,281 daily cases, bringing the state’s total to 928,631. Ohio’s 21-day average also dropped to 4,105 on Wednesday.

DeWine is expected to re-evaluate Ohio’s curfew today. Two weeks ago, he adjusted the curfew to 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. after the state reported less than 3,500 hospitalizations for seven days in a row.

With hospitalizations remaining under 2,500 for nine straight days as of Wednesday, Ohio could see its curfew lifted entirely.

Earlier this month, DeWine outlined different guidelines to loosen the curfew, one of which is if hospitalizations remained under 3,500 for seven straight days the curfew would be from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and if they stayed under 3,000 for a week it would be from midnight to 5 a.m.

Keeping hospitalizations under 2,500 for seven consecutive days would get the curfew lifted completely, DeWine said.

As of Wednesday, Ohio had 1,922 coronavirus patients in hospitals across the state, according to ODH. It’s the second day in a row state hospitalizations remained under 2,000.

Deaths increased by 63 bringing the state’s total to 11,856.


Facts & Figures:

2,700: Doses of COVID-19 vaccine to be given to Clark County K-12 school employees

14,309: Total COVID-19 vaccine shots that have been given in Clark County, as of Wednesday

11,815: Total cases of COVID-19 in Clark County, as of Wednesday

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