June 20, 2021

NCSD teachers to receive second vaccine dose March 26

Superintendent stresses students and teachers follow CDC guidelines for spring break travel

Second round vaccinations for teachers and anyone else who is actively working for the Newton Community School District will be administered in a one-day-only clinic the week after spring break at the E.J.H. Beard Administration Center, superintendent Tom Messinger announced Monday.

The vaccination clinic for a second dose will be held March 26.

More than 300 educators and staff received their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in mid-February. With the help of Newton Clinic and Jasper County Health Department, the district was able to host a vaccination clinic for its faculty and any employees intending to work for the schools once vaccinated.

“Some of our employees also did receive vaccinations separate from the vaccination clinic held here at the school,” Messinger said. “…The employees that went out and got their (shot) separate from the clinic here were then responsible for making sure they lined up their second one.”

To receive a vaccination as a school employee in Jasper County, recipients had to be actively employed by the district or helping with the educational process of students. This allowed bus drivers, cooks, custodians, teachers, paraprofessionals, secretaries and substitutes.

“We did have a number of substitutes in all different areas that received the vaccination,” Messinger added. “We also included a couple folks who had told us early on in the school year that they would start subbing again once the vaccination was made available.”

Currently, the district does not have a precise number of how many school employees have been vaccinated. Since not all of the school personnel received their vaccination through the district’s clinics, Messinger suggested it is difficult to pin down that kind of data.

“I want to thank the Newton Clinic and Jasper County (Health Department) for all of their help with this,” Messinger said.

How will spring break look like for NCSD?

Spring break for Newton schools effectively begins March 12, and the district is recommending students and teachers follow the guidelines beset by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on traveling. These recommendations shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

“Same thing that they’ve been saying all along … throughout the course of the pandemic,” Messinger said.

Repeating what the CDC has already said countless times, Newton schools recommend individuals do not travel if anyone in the household is ill or is in isolation or quarantine. Travel does increase the risk of contracting COVID-19.

There are strategies in place to reduce the risk while traveling:

• wear a mask

• socially distance

• use hand sanitizer or wash hands often

• avoid crowds, especially indoors

• choose options that are less risky (driving over flying, take-out over dine-in)

• choose outdoor activities

CDC also has recommendations for what to do after travel, which include getting a COVID-19 test and quarantining for a small period of time. Messinger said it is recommended to test three to five days after returning from travel.

“We do want to remind folks that our attendance policies stay in place and it’s the responsibility of the student and the parent to get the work missed during time of absence, even if it is COVID-related,” Messinger said.

Upon returning to school after break, Messinger stressed masks are still required for all buildings and all classrooms. Students and teachers are still asked to socially distance as much as possible.

“And, probably the most important one, stay at home if you’re having symptoms of illness,” Messinger said. “Those guidelines have been the ones we’ve been living by since the beginning of the school year. They continue to be in place.”

In essence, all COVID-19 practices at Newton schools are the same.

School board member Donna Cook asked if students and teachers will be required to quarantine if they traveled during break. Messinger said staff are still considered essential employee and can work so long as they don’t test positive.

“And as long as they are not sick or feeling symptomatic, then I think there’s an expectation that they come back to work,” Messinger said. “With students, we don’t have the final say … If students do come back to school, we asked that they follow the guidelines.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Reporter with a strong penchant for community journalism.