Private School Vaccinates Some Teachers Early, As State Works To Create Equitable Distribution
Wisconsin health officials are creating a statewide COVID-19 vaccination schedule for school employees, in an effort to prioritize underserved communities.
Education and childcare workers are eligible for the vaccine beginning March 1. Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said Thursday that local health departments are submitting school vaccination plans to the state.
“We will analyze the plans and plot them out on a master schedule for about the next six weeks or so — about when each school district and health department will be assured they’ll receive vaccine to vaccinate their educators,” Willems Van Dijk said.
The state isn’t distinguishing between schools that are open in-person or virtual. But it will prioritize school districts with high numbers of low-income students or students of color.
“These are populations of students who, they and their families have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic,” Willems Van Dijk said. “And so we feel it’s important we get vaccine to their districts early on.”
Despite the state’s attempt at equitable vaccine distribution, one Milwaukee-area private school has already begun vaccinating teachers, before the March 1 eligibility date.
Brookfield Academy invited employees to sign up for vaccines on Thursday, according to an all-staff email obtained by WUWM.
Head of School Sharon Koenings told WUWM the main focus of Thursday’s clinic was for employees 65 and older to get their second shot. She said there were extra vaccine doses for other teachers to get their first shot.
“I’m going to guess we had about 30 people over 65 and then we had about 40 people where we could have extra vaccines,” Koenings said. “We’re going through a private pharmacy that is helping us with that and we’re just following those guidelines.”
Vaccinating teachers under 65 goes against state guidelines. Education staff aren’t eligible until March 1.
Koenings declined to provide the exact number of ineligible teachers who were vaccinated. She also declined to share the name of the pharmacy that administered the vaccines.
During Thursday’s DHS media briefing, Willems Van Dijk was asked about the Shawano School District vaccinating teachers before March 1. According to news reports, the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe offered some of its extra vaccine to the district.
“There are going to be people who go first, and there are going to be people who will be last in line,” Willems Van Dijk said. “There’s just no way we can change that … the good news is – everybody is going to get vaccinated.”
In Milwaukee, interim Health Commissioner Marlaina Jackson said Thursday that education and childcare workers who live or work in Milwaukee can sign up for vaccinations at the Wisconsin Center next week. She did not say exactly how many doses will be available. Jackson said the health department plans to run mobile vaccination clinics at North and South Division high schools the week of March 8.
Have a question about education you'd like WUWM's Emily Files to dig into? Submit it below.