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Central Ohio school leaders prepare for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Superintendents across central Ohio said they are now in the process of surveying their staff members and taking names for who will receive the vaccine.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Central Ohio educational leaders are surveying their staff ahead of a vaccine rollout, which will have them commit to in-person learning plans by March 1 in exchange for vaccinations beginning February 1.

Gov. DeWine announced the plan Thursday along with other rollouts of Phase 1B for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Superintendents across central Ohio said they are now in the process of surveying their staff members and taking names for who will receive the vaccine.

“We took a survey before winter break and we had about 67% of our employees overall were either saying yes right then or would consider getting the vaccine,” said Hilliard City Schools Superintendent Dr. John Marschhausen.

Hilliard students are currently in a hybrid learning plan except for those who opted for the digital learning academy.

Marschhausen said the students who are in a hybrid plan agreed to a flexible schedule when they signed up for the semester; meaning they could switch to all remote or all in-person when the time comes.

Digital learning academy students at Hilliard will not be given the option to go full in-person this semester when the staff vaccinations begin.

Licking Heights Local School District spent the last week working with local health departments to answer questions their staff members have about the vaccines.

“Actually today [Friday] I’ll be sending out a survey and it’s non-binding. It’s anonymous, but it’s just to get an idea of how many staff are interested,” said Licking Heights Superintendent Dr. Philip Wagner.

Wagner along with Marschhausen and Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro all said districts can’t force employees to get the vaccine. 

However, Wagner said it could make organizing new learning plans difficult come spring.

“Make sure that the proportions work out. Is there enough teachers to teach virtually with the students to match and vice versa,” Wagner said.

Both superintendents said they’re willing to work with teachers who have concerns about in-person teaching when the time comes.

Wagner is working with Licking County Public Health, Franklin County Public Health and Columbus Public Health to provide information about the vaccine to his staff. He said medical professionals at these departments are discussing using the Moderna vaccine for employees.

“The Pizer vaccine requires sub-zero temperature control and typically schools aren’t set up for that,” Wagner said.

Gov. DeWine issued a statement stating in part “Superintendents will also be asked if a community partner has been identified to help with the administering of the COVID-19 vaccines to school personnel.”

Superintendent Dr. Marschhausen said he plans on using partners from past flu shot events, which include Kroger and CVS Pharmacy.