SCOE and Sonoma County DHS announce COVID-19 Immunization Plan for School Staff
SCOE and Sonoma County Department of Health Services announce COVID-19 immunization plan for school staff.
With immunizations for educators on the horizon, the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) is working closely alongside the Sonoma County Department of Health Services to ensure that the county’s roughly 14,000 educators and childcare providers are swiftly vaccinated against COVID-19.
California has identified school staff as a priority for vaccination under Phase 1b, Tier 1. They will be among the next to be vaccinated following the completion of Phase 1a (healthcare workers and long-term care workers.) While the state has now prioritized residents age 65 and older over the general school staff population, school staff aged 65 and older will qualify for the vaccine earlier, along with the rest of their age cohort.
“Immunization is a critical step in our ongoing efforts to ensure that students, teachers, and school staff get back into the classroom as quickly and safely as possible,” said Dr. Steve Herrington, Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools.
He emphasized that details and information were changing quickly based on the latest information from the state and federal government, as well as vaccine availability.
“This will be a herculean task, and we are working hard with our partners at the county to prepare for it,” he said.
“We recognize the social and emotional challenges faced by students and families during the pandemic. That’s why we’re coordinating proactively with our education partners,” Sonoma County Health Officer, Dr. Sundari Mase said. “We’re committed to ensuring that school districts have plans in place to reopen safely, including immunizations for our educators, that allow our students to return to in-person learning as soon as possible.”
She added that immunizations for school nurses could begin as soon as the week of Jan. 18.
SCOE, a centralized support agency for public schools in Sonoma County, has hired retired Healdsburg School District Superintendent Dr. Jeff Harding to coordinate the immunization process between the Department of Health Services and Sonoma County school districts, charter schools, private schools, day cares, and preschools.
A SCOE team meets weekly with public health staff to develop a plan and have systems in place when it becomes educators’ turn on the vaccine schedule. Educators are listed in Phase 1b, tier 1 of the state’s immunization plan. Currently, the county is still helping health care providers and other community partners to administer vaccines to those in Phase 1a. Preparing to immunize educators includes identifying school sites that can serve as vaccination clinics in various locations throughout the county and recruiting, immunizing, and training a team of school nurse volunteers to assist with immunization. SCOE is also coordinating with the child-care providers to ensure preschool and day-care providers receive priority immunizations.
Once the rollout for school staff begins, educators will likely be prioritized for vaccination based on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s school reopening recommendations. Special priority will be given to pre-school, child care, and elementary school employees followed by secondary school employees, district and county office employees, and community college staff.
Information is developing rapidly, and the latest updates on school immunization can be found at scoe.org/vaccines. Educators are advised to check this webpage frequently for information about COVID-19 vaccinations. Additionally, Sonoma County’s vaccine distribution website maintains updated information about the vaccination rollout in Sonoma County here: https://socoemergency.org/vaccine.
Jeff Harding, Ed.D., SCOE’s COVID-19 Response Coordinator | email@example.com