Algonquin-based Community District 300 starts rolling out vaccines to select staff
Algonquin-based Community Community Unit District 300 received COVID-19 vaccinations from the Greater Elgin Family Care Center, which it started distributing Thursday, Superintendent Fred Heid said.
Staff at Neubert and Eastview elementary schools received the first 120 vaccine doses, Heid said. An email was sent to the staff of both schools, with registration done on a first-come, first-served basis.
An additional 120 doses of the vaccine will be administered Feb. 4 to staff from Hampshire and Gary D. Wright elementary schools.
The decision to vaccinate staff at Neubert and Eastview first was based on the class sizes and programs offered at the elementary schools, said Anthony McGinn, the district's spokesman.
"Some of the schools that were selected -- including Neubert, Eastview, Hampshire and Wright -- those schools can have a higher percentage of special-needs students or medically fragile students," McGinn said.
The vaccine, developed by Moderna, was given out in the boardroom of District 300's central office.
Students from schools with staff getting vaccinated will have an asynchronous day, meaning they will work remotely on their own while vaccinations are being administered.
Although the vaccines are not being administered at the schools, Heid said it will take all day for people to get the shots.
The Kane County Health Department is looking to host a larger-scale vaccination event for school districts the week of Feb. 8, Heid said at a school board meeting Tuesday.
The district still is waiting for details about this event, but Heid cautioned District 300's board that they may need to adjust the school week calendar based on the dates and times the health department offers.
McGinn said the goal is for District 300 employees who want a vaccination to have one by early February.
"We're just really happy that we're able to provide our staff the opportunity, if they would like a vaccine to be able to attain a vaccine," McGinn said.
District 300 has 2,078 total employees, according to its website.
Since the beginning of the year, Heid said, 42 employees have tested positive for COVID-19, with 17 of them being school-based staff working on district premises. Many of those 17 called in sick as they developed symptoms or realized they may have been exposed, Heid said.
Upward of 80 staff members working in various roles at District 300 have had to quarantine since school reopened to staff in January, Heid said. This includes custodians, buildings and grounds staff, clerical staff, administrative assistants, school-based administrators and teachers, among others.
School buildings reopened to students Jan. 11 for hybrid learning, in which students have both in-person and remote coursework.
District 300 is not mandating staff members get the vaccine. Heid told the school board a minimal number of employees have refused the vaccine at this time, with a slightly higher number of people saying they are uncertain or undecided about getting it. A large percentage of staff plan to get the vaccine when it is available to them, Heid said.
However, Heid said, if people change their minds about the vaccine after initially refusing it, other opportunities and venues will exist to get it in the future.
Heid said it is important to the district to get staff vaccinated, as it is the next "steppingstone" to being able to increase the number or frequency, of students attending school in person on any given day.
"We have to get staff vaccinated," Heid said. "We will look to seize those opportunities because, again, we want to be able to provide that high level of assurance to our staff and our families that our schools are safe."