After a slight delay, Jasper County school districts were able to conduct COVID-19 vaccination clinics starting Feb. 10. Colfax-Mingo, Baxter and PCM staff members were given the opportunity to receive the vaccine as a part of the Phase 1B Tier 1 distribution priority populations.
“Jasper County Health Department really took the lead on this,” Colfax-Mingo Superintendent Erik Anderson said. “They did a great job of being proactive and communicative throughout. They offered to have the vaccination be on-site for our staff from the beginning. Once the date was determined, they sent me a link for a log-in time for staff to complete.”
Baxter Superintendent Mickolyn Clapper had a similar experience working with JCHD and Medicap Pharmacy in the vaccination process.
“They were fantastic,” Clapper said. “I sent an interest survey to the staff and anyone who indicated they wanted to get the vaccine was added to a group that we put in touch with JCHD and Medicap.”
At PCM, superintendent Michelle Havenstrite said all staff and substitutes were given the option to sign up for a vaccine. Working with the Prairie City Clinic, staff had the option of going to either Monroe or Prairie City giving an added layer of convenience for the staff.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude to Jasper County Health Department, our school nurses, Sally and Julie, Erin VanderWerf, PCM HR Director and the Prairie City Clinic,” Havenstrite said. “It took a lot of time and coordination to make this happen and as the Superintendent, I sincerely appreciate their efforts.”
At Colfax-Mingo 92 staff members received the vaccination and 85 percent of those at Baxter selected to be vaccinated. PCM had approximately 65 percent of the staff sign up to receive the vaccination.
“We respect everyone’s decision on whether they want the vaccination or not,” Havenstrite said. “We are simply providing an opportunity for those who work in our school system who may want one.”
Anderson said the staff reaction was positive and appreciative for the opportunity to receive the vaccine, as well as having the clinic at the school to make it more convenient. Baxter had much the same reaction after receiving their first round Feb. 11.
“Everyone is very excited to finally be getting vaccinated,” Clapper said. “There have been a lot of people who’ve been very anxious to get the vaccine so we can start to get on the road to recovery as a school and a community.”
The second round of vaccines will take place four weeks after the first for the districts, moving them along in the process of dealing with the pandemic. While it is a step for the districts, continued mitigation strategies will also remain in place.
“At PCM our commitment to face-to-face instruction and mitigation of COVID-19 will continue. I do not want to ‘let our guard’ down because some of our staff have received the vaccination. We need to continue to be diligent until the vaccine is widely available,” Havenstrite said. “However, I do feel that, with the widespread distribution of the vaccines, we are getting closer to the end of this pandemic situation.”
The county health department also encourages citizens to continue to keep mitigation efforts in place by wearing masks and social distancing.
“I think this will be a very positive step moving forward,” Clapper said. “We still will continue to implement many of the same procedures we’ve been using all year such as social distancing, wearing masks and staying home when your sick, but this is just one more tool we have at our disposal to help keep our student and staff safe and in school learning. This is a very positive step for Baxter CSD and we are so thankful that we have been given the opportunity to be in group 1B. We also hope that more and more of our community will be able to be vaccinated soon so we can all get life back to normal as soon as possible.”
Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or email@example.com