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Ohio schools only have a few weeks to figure out vaccine plans

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Posted at 5:41 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 20:40:20-05

K-12 teachers in Ohio could begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as early as Feb. 1, provided their districts agree to return to in-person or hybrid learning by March 1. Lakota Local Schools superintendent Matt Miller is already making plans.

“We want to be ready,” he said Friday afternoon. “We want to be prepared as quick as we can for those that do want it.”

Feb. 1 isn’t far away. In the 23 days remaining, Miller and other superintendents throughout Ohio must decide on a return to in-person learning, survey their staff to learn which will be vaccinated, create a vaccination plan with the help of local health officials and communicate each development with students’ families.

TIMELINE: When Ohioans can get the COVID-19 vaccine

“That’s something we’re not used to in schools, obviously, but something that our partners are,” Miller said of the complex logistical task in front of him. “We’re relying on them to help us with some of the logistics and coordination and timing all of that.”

Lakota will return to full-time, in-person classes for most students during the spring semester. Only students who specifically opted out will learn online.

The same is true for Lockland Local School District, where superintendent Bob Longworth said he trusts his public health partners to create a plan that’s best for everyone in the distrct.

“We’re in very good hands in this region of the state,” he said. “We’re very confident in publc health and the work they’re going to do to coordinate the logistics.”

Most staff members in both districts are eager to be vaccinated, the superintendents said.

“Each day, our goal is to make sure that we can open up the doors the following day for the students and families that need us,” said Longworth.

That’s about 552 students for him and 15,000 for Miller.

Cincinnati Public Schools, which serves 36,000, has yet to make a decision about its own possible return to in-person learning. The district’s board of education meets next on Jan. 16 to examine local health data and discuss a possible end to remote learning.

And all of their plans rely on Ohio receiving enough vaccine to cover the increasingly large population eligible for the shot.

According to Mike DeWine, the state expects to get about 100,000 doses each week for the next several weeks. By the time teachers become eligible to receive the vaccine, they’ll be in line alongside hundreds of thousands of seniors who became eligible before they did.