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Durango teachers, staff to receive COVID-19 vaccine en masse

Inoculations will be offered Saturday at Escalante Middle and Durango High
Durango School District 9-R will hold vaccination clinics for teachers and staff members Saturday at Escalante Middle School and Durango High School.

Two COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be held for Durango School District 9-R teachers and staff members on Saturday – one at Durango High School and one at Escalante Middle School.

The clinic at Escalante Middle School will be able to inoculate 300 staff members, and will be held from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. It will be administered by employees from the pharmacies at Durango’s City Markets.

The clinic at DHS can handle up to 150 staff members and will be administered by the Albertsons pharmacy operations. The times for the DHS clinic are yet to be set.

About 580 teachers and staff members are scheduled to receive COVID-19 vaccinations this Saturday and Feb. 20. 9-R has about 750 employees.

9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger said some employees already have received vaccinations, including the district’s therapists and health workers, such as school nurses.

The vaccination is not required, and Snowberger estimated about 100 employees will choose not to be vaccinated.

Additional clinics for employees to receive their first dose of the vaccine will be set up the next Saturday, Feb. 20.

The vaccine will be from Pfizer, and the second dose will be given on March 6, also at Escalante Middle School and DHS.

For those who are vaccinated on Feb. 20, the second dose will be administered in clinics on March 13.

Animas High School is working with San Juan Basin Public Health to obtain vaccinations for its teachers and staff members, said AHS Head of School Sean Woytek. Vaccinations will be offered either this week or next week, and will be administered at Mercy Regional Medical Center, with appointments set up for employees to receive their shots at the hospital.

Mountain Middle School employees will receive vaccinations Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at Mercy, said MMS Head of School Shane Voss.

The Juniper School teachers and staff members are eligible to receive vaccinations at the 9-R clinics.

Snowberger said 9-R teachers who receive vaccinations will still be required to wear face masks and protective personal equipment in class because the latest research shows those who have been vaccinated can still be carriers of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

For the past month, since the return of in-person learning at 9-R, use of PPE by teachers has protected the district from losing teachers to quarantines after COVID-19 exposures in schools.

9-R is not yet going to five-day a week, in-person schooling at elementary and middle schools even though La Plata County has been placed in the Level Blue status, the second lowest in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s COVID-19 Status Dial.

Level Blue allows for five day a week in-person school.

Snowberger said indications are that La Plata County will move to the Level Yellow status based on recent transmission numbers, so 9-R will wait for 14 consecutive days in which the county has achieved Level Blue status before moving to five day a week in-person learning at elementary and middle schools.

DHS, with students currently attending in-person classes four half days a week, would go to four full days a week if La Plata County is able to stay at Level Blue for 14 consecutive days.

Brian Devine, deputy incident commander for COVID-19 at SJBPH, said Tuesday morning that based on recent positive case numbers, the county is on a trajectory to move from Level Blue to Level Yellow in the next few days. Devine spoke at the La Plata County Economic Development Alliance’s monthly meeting held on Zoom.


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