Sacramento County education and public health officials announced on Feb. 12 that COVID-19 vaccinations will be offered to employees at K-12 schools, starting on Feb. 16.
They are coordinating the vaccination effort with the county’s 13 school districts as well as private schools.
“Vaccinating our educators and childcare providers is an important step in the effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and help return our communities back to their normal lives,” Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye said in a press statement. “While the effort will be slow, every person that gets vaccinated is a step in the right direction.”
Under Phase 1b of the county’s distribution plan, vaccine eligibility was expanded to people ages 65 or older as well as those who work in childcare, education, agriculture, law enforcement, and emergency services.
More than 1,200 doses were reportedly administered at a drive-thru clinic at Cosumnes Oaks High School’s parking lot on Feb. 12, the Cosumnes Community Services District announced that day. Vaccines were offered to eligible Sacramento County residents and the visits were scheduled by appointment.
The Cosumnes Fire Department and the Elk Grove police worked with the Elk Grove Unified School District to organize the clinic.
Cosumnes Fire’s Assistant EMS Chief Rick Clarke said that each recipient was given a consent form, a registration form, and information on the vaccine. They were also given a document that displayed the recipient’s return date for the second shot.
Similar COVID-19 vaccine clinics were held at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church and California Northstate University’s Elk Grove campus since last month.
The county’s public health staff reported that 114,089 doses have been given in Sacramento County, as of Feb. 12. More than 138,000 doses were allocated to the county to date.
Regarding the new vaccine eligibility for law enforcement workers, Elk Grove police spokesperson Hannah Gray said that the vaccine is not mandatory for her agency’s employees. She added that officers do not have to report if they were vaccinated by a private service providers.
Elk Grove school district spokesperson Xanthi Soriano also told the Citizen that COVID-19 vaccines are not required for her district’s employees.
“The vaccine is not mandatory, rather it’s in addition to our mitigation strategies,” she said.
Soriano said that her staff did not have information on how many district employees have been vaccinated.
On Feb. 16, California Northstate University (CNU) officials announced they are offering a vaccination clinic for employees of all school districts at their Elk Grove campus. They estimated that their new clinic, combined with their current vaccination clinic at their campus, can vaccinate up to a thousand people a day.
Officials added they can vaccinate all of Elk Grove Unified’s 6,500 employees in less than three weeks.
“Our entire school district and 200 Elk Grove Unified volunteers who stepped forward to help out great appreciate the collaboration with the CNU team as well all work together to safely bring students back to school,” Elk Grove Unified School District Superintendent Christopher Hoffman said in a press statement.
The CNU clinic will be open from 4-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 2-5 p.m. on Fridays.
David Gordon, the superintendent of the Sacramento County Office of Education, told the Citizen that his staff is organizing “adjunct” vaccination sites that are close to small school districts across the county.
He mentioned that a major challenge is the availability of COVID-19 vaccines.
“(That) is obviously beyond our control,” Gordon said. “We thought we would create an infrastructure so we can get the shots in arms when the vaccine is available.”
The superintendent mentioned that the county has upward of 25,000 educators from public and charter schools. He said that he’s still optimistic about the vaccination effort.
“The districts have been great, and the public health department has been very cooperative and collaborative,” Gordon said.
Elk Grove school district waits for county to turn red
Elk Grove Unified’s 67 campuses have been closed for regular, in-person learning since last March when the COVID-19 pandemic arose in Sacramento County. Their students have been taking online classes or other forms of distance learning since last spring.
The school district’s school reopening plan depends on Sacramento County advancing to the less restrictive Red Tier 2 under the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy plan. Sacramento County must then remain in the red tier for at least two weeks before the Elk Grove school district begins reopening campuses to in-person learning, starting with elementary schools.
As of Feb. 16, Sacramento County remained in the Purple Tier 1 status, due to its case rate of 15 new COVID cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day average. In order to reach the red tier, the case rate must be between 4-7 cases per 100,000 residents.
The county’s COVID case rate steadily declined since early February. Feb.16’s case rate of 15 new cases per 100,000 residents is a drop from the 21.6 case rate that was reported on Feb. 4. Sacramento County’s test positivity rate was also in the Red Tier level of 7.2%, as of Feb. 16.
Last month, Hoffman told the Elk Grove school board about the county’s falling COVID case rate and said that the county could reach Red Tier 2 this spring.
During the school board’s Feb. 2 meeting, the district staff reported that personal protective equipment was available for students and staff when they return to school. They added that safety signs were posted at all schools and new air filters were installed across the district.
The school district now seeks public feedback on their updated school safety plan that was scheduled to be posted on their website this week. This new plan was not available for the Citizen’s review, as of press time.
Under the district’s current plan for in-person learning, students would participate in a “concurrent” model that has them attend class twice a week. A fulltime online learning option will still be available. In the classroom, students would use laptop computers at their desks so their teachers can simultaneously teach online students who remain at home.
For more information on Sacramento County’s COVID-19 vaccination plan and who is currently eligible to receive doses, visit the county’s public health department website at www.SacCounty.net/COVID-19. And for updates on the Elk Grove Unified School District’s school reopening plan, visit www.EGUSD.net/COVID-19/