A COVID-19 vaccination clinic for educators within Durango School District 9-R could come as soon as next week, and eligibility for inoculations will extend to teachers and staff members from charter schools, private schools and preschool child care facilities.
9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger said the date for the clinic is not yet set, and vaccination events might come in either one event or multiple events, depending on how many doses are made available by the state.
The school district has requested 644 doses for 9-R staff members, 103 doses for charter school staff members and 169 doses for preschool child care staff members.
“We’ve put our staff on notice that they should be prepared next Saturday, the 13th,” Snowberger said.
Bayfield School District is working with Upper Pine Fire Protection District to hold an event, and Ignacio School District is working with San Juan Basin Public Health to set up a vaccination event in Ignacio, he said.
Gov. Jared Polis is expected to release COVID-19 vaccination doses to educators beginning Monday.
“It’s not a requirement. No one’s been forced to take it,” Snowberger said. “We do have some who have already been vaccinated. And we do have some who just are not wanting to, so we’re trying to honor personal preference.”
Health service providers in the district such as occupational therapists, physical therapists and school nurses already have been vaccinated.
Snowberger said the district is communicating with the Community COVID-19 Vaccination Team, and said if enough doses are available, the team is capable of administering up to 1,000 inoculations at one event at the La Plata County Fairgrounds.
“They’re pretty confident they could do 1,000 in one day, which would allow all educators to come there and get it done,” he said. “But the question is, will we get 1,000 doses on one weekend? That’s going to be the wild card.”
9-R employees who interact with students on a daily basis will receive priority in receiving vaccines if limited doses prevent the district from inoculating the entire staff at once, Snowberger said.
After staff members are vaccinated, Snowberger said 9-R will continue to practice mitigation strategies such as mask wearing, social distancing and frequent hand washings because people who are vaccinated could still be carriers of the coronavirus.
Once vaccinations are complete, the district will examine dropping some of the more extreme protective measures it has taken, such as requiring staff members to wear eye protection.
“We’re gonna do it as quickly as the vaccines are available,” he said.
In other welcome news on the COVID-19 front, Snowberger said the district’s measures to equip staff members with personal protective equipment, face masks and eye protection has meant that no staff members have been required to be quarantined after recent exposures.
In addition, the district is no longer quarantining entire cohorts after an exposure incident.
“We’ll do partial cohort quarantines now, because we do have kids who were not present on the day that the exposure occurred,” he said. “We have kids who have actually tested positive and have an antigen test that say that they are immune, and so we don’t send them out of the classroom.”
The latest exposure incident at 9-R occurred Tuesday at Durango High School.
The exposure led to 45 students in two cohorts beginning quarantines, said Julie Popp, 9-R spokeswoman.
Because of the use of PPE, KN95 face masks and eye protection, no teachers or adult staff members had to quarantine, she said.