ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Colorado educators are hoping 2021 doesn’t resemble their experience teaching through a pandemic last year, and Cherry Creek School District took the first big step into making that hope a possibility.
The district began vaccinating school nurses, and other essential employees on Jan. 1, thanks to a partnership with Centura Health.
“First day of 2021 we’re getting shots in the arm. What a great way to start the new year,” said Superintendent Scott Siegfried.
School nurses are covered under the state’s Phase 1B vaccination plan, and essential workers in education were recently added to that category. Siegfried says their nurses were an important priority, and will be able to give COVID tests to asymptomatic students, with protection from the vaccine.
The Problem Solvers reached out to several other districts in the Denver metro area, and those who replied are still working on vaccination plans with local public health agencies and officials.
“We’re hearing some may be able to do it in the next couple weeks, but the reality is that most are probably gonna be late January at the earliest,” said President of the Colorado Education Association Amie Baca-Oehlert.
“We really believe for the entirety of the school year that we’re gonna be wearing masks, we’re gonna be social distancing, we’re gonna be hand washing because students are way further down the list because we don’t have the data right now to know when it’s gonna be safe.”
Cherry Creek Schools could start vaccinating its teachers as soon as next week, which may be one of the first educator groups in the nation to receive the shot, according to a spokesperson for the district.
Vaccinating teachers ahead of schedule could open the door for a quicker return to sustained in-person learning, and perhaps a somewhat normal school experience for some students.
“Maybe we can move to five days a week for secondary kids, when all our educators have received their full vaccination, and that’s the game changer this becomes,” Siegfried said.
“Maybe we can have more real typical graduation ceremonies. Give these kids the opportunity to finish their senior year, like our kids last year didn’t get.”
A spokesperson for Centura Health says they are in talks with other school districts, and are open to partnering with more to get employees vaccinated.