Hundreds of Eastern Carver County Schools staff are scheduled to be vaccinated at a Friday, Feb. 26 clinic in Waconia.
“I think every shot in the arm increases the safety of our staff and our students and our community,” said Celi Haga, district communications director.
The clinic, held with the support of Ridgeview medical center and Carver County, will vaccinate 700 Carver County and 100 Wright County school staff, according to Carver County Public Health Director Richard Scott.
Registration was offered to school staff on a first-come, first-served basis, and approximately 300 staff from Eastern Carver County were scheduled to receive a vaccination, according to Haga.
Another 440 local staff had vaccination appointment slots at a St. Paul clinic a few weeks ago. Haga's unsure if all of the appointments went through.
So it’s possible that over half of the 1,413 educational staffers in Eastern Carver County Schools will have been vaccinated by week's end.
Vaccinations are optional for school staff, according to Haga.
“There are no requirements for vaccinations for staff, and while there are mandated vaccinations required for students, there are avenues to obtain exemptions,” Haga said.
The Friday vaccine clinic hours are 8 a.m.-2:15 p.m., unfortunately “right smack in the middle of the school day,” Haga said.
“There’s no way to safely provide in-person learning when you have that many people in and out,” Haga said.
So, as a result, no students will report to in-person learning on Friday. Teachers will provide assignments for students to complete independently, according to a school announcement.
“It’s challenging, especially for elementary parents,” Haga said. “Our hope is, long-term, this really stabilizes any future impacts of the virus to the district learning model.”
The vaccination clinic is an opportunity “to really pave the way for us to get students back in buildings,” said District 112 Board Chair Jeff Ross.
Ross noted that elementary school students and teachers can “stay in pods,” reducing possible COVID exposure. However, he said, it’s more difficult at the middle and high school levels, where students attend different classes throughout the day and interact with different teachers.
The clinic will be held at Lake Waconia Event Center.
It’s the sixth mass-vaccination clinic coordinated by Carver County, Scott said. “We have really strong partnerships with Ridgeview, along with other collaborative partners,” he said.
Ridgeview is providing 200 vaccinations it received from the state (100 distributed to Carver County and 100 to Wright County), and Carver County is providing 600 vaccinations, according to Scott.
Scott said he’s a little nervous about the vaccines arriving Friday, due to the recent winter weather in the South, which has had a ripple effect throughout the entire vaccine supply chain.
If all goes as planned, Ridgeview and Carver County Public Health personnel will administer the vaccination program, with the majority of staff provided by Ridgeview, Scott said.
“There’s no other way we could do that, if we did it alone,” he said, of the mass vaccination.
Following the clinic, the county will continue vaccinations to educators with a “more tailored approach,” Scott said.
“We want to be in-person and be with our students, and this is a great step forward to make sure that can happen,” Haga said, of the clinic.