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With changes made from Gov. Jared Polis and the state’s COVID-19 Response Team, education in Colorado could soon receive its biggest boost toward opening schools safely.
Polis announced Wednesday changes to the groups in each phase of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, one being a movement up of educational staff into the “1B” phase, which is where the state believes most communities should be.
Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment information director Sarah Joseph said the rollout plan in Pueblo is in more of a transition phase between 1A and 1B, but the continued distribution is a positive sign to begin 2021.
“We’re still trying to catch up and make sure everybody that’s in that (1A) category that wants it, is getting it,” Joseph said. “It’s kind of going to be a combined effort of 1A and 1B overlapping and occurring at the same time because even after we get everyone in 1A, then in about a month we have to give them their booster.
“We’re going to finish 1A, jump into 1B and then start doing the boosters for 1A, which I believe already start next week.”
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The news of education staff being bumped up is welcome for Pueblo District 60 and 70. D70 public information officer Todd Seip said the district has no concrete plans yet for distribution of the vaccine, but said it will probably be discussed during Monday’s school board meeting.
“We are glad that the governor recognizes the importance of all school staff as essential workers in being able to receive a vaccine, if they choose, to help get schools open more quickly and more fully,” Seip said. “We remain cautiously optimistic about the proposed timeline and hope that the delivery schedule can be enhanced to get vaccines to all Puebloans as soon as possible.”
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As for D60, director of communications Dalton Sprouse said the city schools are also beginning discussion on a rollout plan and, like D70, will continue to work with county health leaders.
Joseph said a top priority from the beginning of the pandemic has been to get schools open safely.
Part of the attempt to achieve that is the PDPHE meeting with officials from the two local school districts at least once a week, often times more than once.
“The school districts already offered their locations if we need assistance for that,” Joseph said. “I meet with their communication folks, our nurses meet with the school nurses, our policy folks meet, everyone is meeting. We are definitely collaborating with them.”
Students staying online:Pueblo D60 schools staying online for first 2 weeks of spring semester
D60 and D70 have both decided to return all schools for the second semester virtually on Jan. 4, with both districts planning to open elementary schools and hybrid plans for middle schools the third week of the semester, which begins Jan. 18. High schools in both districts will remain online for now.
While the update provides hope, Joseph said monitoring the vaccine supply Pueblo receives will be an important note to keep as well, and one of the parts the PDPHE and the districts will have to plan for.
“It just depends on not only when they’re up for their dose, but how many doses are delivered to our community at that time,” Jospeh said. “It’s a supply issue as well.”
Chieftain sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at twitter.com/ajw_sports. Help support the Chieftain and get the latest news on prep sports with a digital subscription.