Stillwater Schools begins vaccinating teachers and staff

Stillwater High School Special Education teacher Leshia Nelson is shown receiving her COVID-19 vaccination Saturday at at clinic organized by the school district. More will follow, SPS officials said. Provided

Stillwater Public Schools hosted a COVID-19 vaccination clinic Saturday that administered 378 doses to teachers, staff and some family members who qualified under the Sate of Oklahoma’s vaccination plan.

School teachers and staff, originally in Phase 3 of Oklahoma’s vaccination plan, were moved higher up on the priority list in December by Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has emphasized the importance of getting schools open for in-person instruction.

“Vaccinations for our teachers and staff will add an additional layer of protection for our SPS community and assist in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our schools,” Superintendent Marc Moore said in a release sent by the school district. “This benefit to our staff would not have been possible without the collaborative effort of Passport Health, the Payne County Health Department, and the SPS Human Resources and Communications Departments. SPS Director of Human Resources Bo Gamble spent numerous hours spearheading this project and, ultimately, making it a reality.”

The district worked with the county health department to determine vaccination eligibility and with Passport Health to provide vaccine and staff to administer it.

Additional SPS staff volunteered to conduct temperature checks, handle registration, and monitor vaccine recipients for adverse reactions, the dis

The district was ultimately able to get more people vaccinated than expected.

“Originally this clinic was just aimed at serving staff over 65 and those with direct healthcare responsibilities,” Gamble said. “We were ecstatic when the health department gave us authorization to administer doses to all teachers and staff at Saturday’s clinic. It meant a quick sign up process, but it was definitely a welcome turn of events. SPS was able to get a large number of our staff vaccinated before most districts in the state.”

Oklahoma City Public Schools announced that it also had vaccinated 500 of its teachers over the weekend.

In addition to hosting clinics for its staff, Stillwater Public Schools has been texting alerts to staff when extra doses are available at other local clinics.

“We want to ensure that any staff member that wants to be vaccinated, can do so in a timely manner,” Gamble said. “And want to provide them with as many avenues to do that as possible.”

COVID-19 vaccination will not be required for employees, however Stillwater Public Schools is strongly encouraging it.

In a release, the district said teachers and staff have been very receptive to signing up.

SPS Secondary RN David Coates, who worked to administer vaccines last weekend, said he was happy to participate.

“It was gratifying and humbling to participate in the vaccination of so many Stillwater Public School employees,” he said. “The emotional relief on their faces was palpable.”

Because so many people have been struggling to find appointments through the state’s vaccination portal, SPS has announced it is doing what it can to make the process as convenient as possible for employees.

Participants in Saturday’s clinic are already scheduled for their second doses on March 12.

The district has several more clinics planned in the coming weeks to ensure that employees have access to the vaccine. The district’s next clinic will be this coming Saturday at Stillwater High School.

 

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