Though the supply is limited, the first week of vaccinating Santa Barbara Unified educators was considered a success.
For weeks, the majority of teachers and educators beseeched the district to secure vaccines before reopening. Karen McBride, president of the Teachers Association, surveyed her members and found that 77 percent of her 715 members expressed on a survey that they had some level of discomfort going back without a vaccine.
Despite the cries for vaccines, district elementary schools reopened on March 1 anyway because of the state vaccine shortage. In the same week, educators became eligible for the vaccine. Because of the shortage, the Public Health Department set aside 1,100 vaccines for educators countywide during this first week.
Superintendent Hilda Maldonado decided which staff members got priority. The first two groups of staff to be vaccinated include those who are serving the “most vulnerable students who require support that does not allow for physical distancing, are medically fragile, and are often unable to wear masks” and those who have significant contact with others in person or who are mixing across multiple stable groups.
Last week, close to 200 staff members of the district’s 2,100 employees were vaccinated at the Lompoc Valley Medical Center and the district’s early childhood education team was allotted 32 vaccines separately. This week, the district expects to vaccinate “a couple hundred more” at Sansum or Cottage. The district also reported that some staff members have been able to make appointments through pharmacies at Vons, CVS, and Albertsons.
Once the first two educator priority groups are vaccinated, the district will move on to prioritize staff members working in person with students and other staff without mixing groups, and then staff with limited exposure to others and people working remotely.
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