Vaccines for school staff possible in February

(Posted Jan. 13, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

With the possibility that vaccines for COVID-19 will be made available to school staff in the coming weeks, Jonathan Alder Local Schools leaders are talking about what that could mean for returning to fully in-person learning.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently announced the inclusion of school employees on the list of people eligible to receive the vaccine in the next phase of the vaccine rollout. The target date for administering first doses to this group is the first week of February.

To determine how many vaccines could be needed, Madison County Public Health sent out a planning tool to all of the school districts in the county the week of Jan. 10. School staffers are being asked to fill out and return a form stating whether they would be interested in taking the vaccine and, if so, if they would take it as soon as it is available or at a later date.

Timing for vaccination of school employees will depend on supply, said Chris Cook, Madison County’s health commissioner. Currently, the county is receiving 100 doses of vaccine per week, he said.

At the Jan. 11 school board meeting, Shannon Foust asked his fellow board members if they would be in favor of returning students and staff to fully in-person learning once staff members have had the chance to get vaccinations. All of them said they would.

“The minute we can get students back in school full-time, we should do it,” said board member Steve Votaw.

Foust and Votaw acknowledged that there is no way to etch in stone a timeline for when that could happen because data, safety conditions, and logistics related to the pandemic and administration of vaccines are constantly changing.

“It’s encouraging, though,” Foust said.

Jonathan Alder Superintendent Gary Chapman suggested that the board plan to meet again later in the month in the hopes that more concrete information about staff vaccines would be available at that time, allowing the board to make decisions about learning formats moving forward.

As of Jan. 11, Jonathan Alder had: 10 positive cases, including one staff member; 48 people in quarantine, including two staff members; and 26 people in isolation, including one staff member.

In other business:
• The board accepted a donation of $208.48 from New California Presbyterian Church to pay outstanding school fees.

• The board thanked the Plain City Church Fellowship for distributing Christmas baskets to 124 families representing 296 students in the school district.

• Board members watched a video message in which students from around the district thanked them for their service. January is School Board Recognition Month.

• Chapman reported that he hopes to recognize Ray Russell and his children, Rod Russell and Nancy Patterson, in person at the next school board meeting. The family donated $50,000 for the design, purchase and installation of a video message board to be placed outside the high school.

Organizational Meeting
Prior to the regular January meeting, the board held its annual organizational meeting. Foust was elected to serve as board president for 2021; Mary Jo Boyd will serve as vice president.

Board member committee assignments were set as follows:
• Tolles Career & Technical Center–Bill McCartney, who also was named as the district’s representative on the Tolles school board for a three-year term starting this month;
• Insurance–Foust;
• Technology–McCartney and Christine Blacka;
• Board policy update and review–Blacka and Boyd;
• Jonathan Alder Community Support Coalition–Boyd and McCartney;
• Strategic planning–Foust and Votaw;
• Financial advisory–Foust and Votaw.

The board will meet at 5:30 p.m. in the high school media center the second Monday of each month with the exception of June when the board will meet on June 28. The dates for the other meetings are: Feb. 8, March 8, April 12, May 10, July 12, Aug. 9, Sept. 13, Oct. 11, Nov. 8 and Dec. 13.

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