Date set for school employee vaccination at Jonathan Alder

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(Posted Jan. 9, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

If all goes according to plan, school employees in Madison County will receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine the third week of February. Jonathan Alder Local Schools is on the schedule for Feb. 24.

According to Jonathan Alder Superintendent Gary Chapman, Madison County Public Health will administer the vaccine, most likely from one location–the high school–for all interested Jonathan Alder employees.

As of Feb. 8, 188 of the school district’s approximately 250 employees had expressed interest in receiving the vaccine. Of those, 83 percent have pre-registered. Pre-registration allows the health department to order the appropriate amount of vaccine.

Chapman noted that timing for the clinic will depend on availability of the vaccine. If a date change is necessary, he said he would send a push notification to all staff and students’ families. The day the vaccine is administered, students in all grades will learn remotely.

Chapman and superintendents from the other school districts in the county meet regularly with Chris Cook, the county health commissioner. During the group’s Feb. 8 meeting, Cook reported that positivity rates for COVID-19 cases are dropping in the county and, as of that date, were at the same level they had been on Nov. 18.

“Based on the positive trends that we are seeing in the county and our district, we are optimistic and Mr. Cook has agreed to review the current social distancing guidelines that are in place,” Chapman said.

Currently, schools are required to keep six feet of social distancing wherever possible and at least three feet of distance between desks. Chapman said the requirement is difficult to meet at Jonathan Alder’s middle and junior high schools.

Cook said he will continuously watch the data and evaluate any new studies. He plans to review the social distancing rules toward the end of February.

In the meantime, students in pre-kindergarten through fourth grade at Jonathan Alder’s Monroe and Plain City elementary buildings will return to full-time, in-person classes five days a week starting Feb. 16. Chapman said the district hopes to return students in grades 5-12 to full-time, in-person instruction by the end of February or early March.

District leaders continue to look for creative ways to get students back to safe, in-person instruction. One option they are exploring is modular classrooms, Chapman said.

“If we can get our kids back in (the schools), we need to pursue all options,” he said.

As of Feb. 8, Jonathan Alder had three confirmed cases of COVID-19, 20 individuals in quarantine, including one staff member, and 21 students in isolation.

In other discussion, Chapman reported that a steering committee has been formed for the upcoming levy campaign. The district is placing a renewal request on the May 4 ballot for a 0.5 percent income tax for 10 years. The request represents no new taxes, Chapman said, and would continue to apply to earned income only.

The board approved a contract agreement with Griffin Sports Equipment for the purchase and installation of a video message board outside the high school. A donation from the Ray Russell family is covering the project. Materials are on order. Installation will start after the ground thaws.

The next regular school board meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. March 8 in the high school library.

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