Local school officials hope COVID-19 vaccine will help pave way to reopen in-person learning

Posted at 5:01 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 18:19:49-05

CINCINNATI — Tri-State health care providers are about a week into rolling out thousands of COVID-19 vaccinations to frontline health care workers and long-term care residents, but other high-risk essential workers are preparing to be among the next groups to get the preventative treatment.

Among them are teachers like Clayton Adams, a special education teacher at Aiken High School in College Hill. He hopes the vaccine will create a more reliable path back to in-person learning, which is especially crucial for his students.

"The sooner we as teachers get vaccinated, the sooner we can return to traditional classroom learning," Adams told WCPO, adding that everyone in a school setting -- including other staff, coaches and, ideally, the students themselves -- should be prioritized for receiving the vaccine.

Even among the teachers and staff themselves, though, there should be some prioritizing, Adams said, particularly for "the older teachers and the ones that are higher-risk."

Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education member Mike Moroski said the school district is watching the case counts before making any decisions about when and how to reopen to in-person learning. Once local case rates drop back below 40 cases per 100,000 people, Moroski said the district would then begin phasing a few grade levels at a time back to in-person learning.

"I'm hoping the vaccine will enable us to do that," Moroski said.

He agreed that the matter is not as simple as vaccinating teachers: "There are a lot of adults in our building that care for our kids that are not in the group: cafeteria workers, custodial staff, secretarial staff, security guards. I could go on and on."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified a broad list of groups that states should consider as they broaden the scopes of their vaccination rollouts:

  • people aged 75 and older
  • teachers
  • firefighters and police
  • food and agriculture workers
  • correctional workers
  • manufacturing
  • postal workers
  • transit workers
  • grocery store employees

All told, those groups combine to more than 30 million people, according to the CDC.

During a routine coronavirus news briefing Monday, Gov. Mike DeWine said officials in his administration are still working to determine what groups will begin receiving the still scarce supply of vaccinations next throughout Ohio.