Tonight the school board will discuss plans to return many more students to the classroom. Before that starts we should review the current round of return for elementary school students. In February when the board was discussing the return for elementary school students, it was pointed out that under the CDC guidelines for vaccination the state was using and vaccination rates in February, it would be next fall or later before teachers were vaccinated.
But in an email from WSSD superintendent Lisa Palmer over the weekend, she stated,
Governor Wolf has prioritized educators and school staff to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This is fantastic news for us. We have already surveyed our staff to assess interest and are awaiting the link to schedule the vaccinations. The initial round of vaccinations will begin on Wednesday, March 10, and will continue through Wednesday, March 17. It is our understanding that the second round of vaccines will become available at the end of March. Our initial allocation is sufficient to vaccinate all elementary educators and staff who wish to receive the vaccination.
This is unfortunate timing. Students return to school on March 18th, but the vaccination the teachers are given will not yet be effective. This is the data from Johnson and Johnson’s third phase trial regarding their vaccine.
From the data, those receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will not be significantly protected until after around 14 days, which for the first teachers receiving the vaccine is around the time of spring break. They’ll have had several days already in closely spaced classrooms by then. If the school board had decided to go with the later date they’d considered in April, they’d have all the teachers vaccinated before they return to more closely spaced classrooms. But the decision was made without sufficient information from the state. The state is failing DelCo over and over. Over the weekend, Rep. Zabel tweeted that DelCo had been shortchanged by 50,000 doses of vaccine – these shortfalls have been noticeable. The vaccination clinics I’ve volunteered at have operated at a fraction of capacity.
The school board is in a pretty miserable situation created by the state – as usual. Having to make decisions like this while blind is unacceptable. The state and feds must do better to make their plans clear so others can make informed decisions.