January 20, 2021 - 6:03 pm
Updated January 20, 2021 - 6:05 pm
While some Clark County School District educators have already received COVID-19 vaccinations, the drive to inoculate district employees is expected to officially launch on Monday.
A memo sent to employees Tuesday by Chief Human Resources Officer Nadine Jones announcing the drive discouraged them from signing up for appointments before the official launch date.
“Educators who sign up prior to this date risk being turned away or rescheduled,” it said.
It is not yet clear when the vaccinations will begin.
The school district has operated with 100 percent distance learning since mid-March due to the pandemic. The School Board voted last week to allow students to return to school campuses on a voluntary basis for academic and mental health interventions, possibly as soon as late February.
Education and elected officials have said that ensuring employees who want to be vaccinated are able to receive both doses and build immunity is key to the limited reopening.
Teachers feel the same way, said Vicki Kreidel, president of the National Education Association of Southern Nevada.
“If you want us back in buildings, you need to let us get vaccinated and allow time for it to take effect before that happens,” said.
The Nevada System of Higher Education will act as the education “point of dispensing” — also referred to as POD — for Clark County, Jones wrote in the memo.
Vaccines will be administered at UNLV’s Student Union and the College of Southern Nevada’s Henderson campus Student Union. Those sites will provide vaccines for school district, public charter school, private school and higher education employees, Jones wrote.
UNLV Medicine is updating its scheduling website to prepare for school district registration, Jones wrote. “We ask for your continued patience in waiting until you are notified to register. This will allow time needed to set up systems that accommodate our needs. We are working with them closely this week to develop the process and anticipate providing CCSD staff with additional information by the end of this week.”
UNLV’s vaccination site opened Jan. 11 and the CSN Henderson site is scheduled to open Thursday.
In a Jan. 15 message to the campus community, UNLV officials said that more than 2,000 people received vaccinations at the university’s site during the first week.
A note on the university’s website says it’s currently vaccinating only first responders, law enforcement and public safety employees, health care providers, and prioritized groups within NSHE. “We are not currently scheduling vaccines for CCSD or members of the broader community.”
There has been confusion among Clark County school employees about whether they were eligible to receive the vaccine and how to sign up.
On Friday, the Southern Nevada Health District posted on its website that “frontline community support” workers — including child care workers, preschool through 12th-grade teachers and college and university workers who must work on campus — were eligible for vaccination.
Some teachers quickly made appointments and some received their first shot of the two-dose vaccine at sites, including Western High School in Las Vegas.
But by Tuesday, the health district’s website had been changed to indicate that sites were not currently accepting appointments for educators.
“Vaccination appointment registration will open soon for those in the Educators/NSHE group,” according to the website. “Please check back after January 18.”
The Clark County Education Association teachers union put out a survey about the COVID-19 vaccine, which is still open, and more than 11,000 educators had responded thus far.
Most respondents want to get vaccinated, CCEA President Marie Neisess said Wednesday. “I was happy to see that the overwhelming majority are eagerly awaiting to get their vaccinations and they’re hoping to do so before trustees want educators back in the building with in-person instruction.”
Neisess said there were concerns among educators about whether it would be mandatory to get vaccinated. “Right now, it’s optional. Everyone has to do what’s best for themselves.”
She said that moving forward, getting vaccinated with help alleviate some of the stress of returning to in-person instruction for those opting to do so.
But there have been problems making appointments and concern among those who were able to do so that they would be turned away when they show up for the appointment, Neisess said.
Another concern is the vast number of school district employees who will need the vaccine and the timeline in which it can be delivered, she said.
Kreidel said she found out Jan. 13 that some fellow teachers were able to make an appointment online for vaccination. “I was one of the ones who was notified pretty quick when the drop down included educators at some of the vaccination sites.”
Kreidel said the earliest she could have gotten an appointment was Jan. 15 at Western High School, but she didn’t want to take time off work. Instead, she signed up for the first weekend appointment she could find — Saturday in Henderson at a site that’s no longer listed on the health district’s website.
Kreidel said she knows school employees who’ve gone to a vaccination site with documentation and a few were allowed to proceed. But others were turned away, including some who went to the mass vaccination site at Cashman Center in Las Vegas, she said.
She said the last thing anyone needs right now is to wait in a long line with lots other people to get vaccinated, she said adding that it would make more sense to use multiple schools throughout the valley for school district employees.
“Two sites to serve 44,000 employees? That doesn’t seem like a good idea,” Kreidel said.
Las Vegas high school teacher Ryan Fromoltz made an appointment to get vaccinated Jan. 30 at Community Ambulance in Henderson and plans to keep the appointment.
Fromoltz made an appointment when it was first revealed that school employees were eligible to sign up, but no formal announcement had been made.
“I really honestly think the amount of teachers who signed up caught the health district off guard,” he said.
Fromoltz said the communication around the vaccine rollout for educators has been awful and “it feels like this entire process has been a disorganized mess.”
If the superintendent, parents and school board trustees want teachers back in classrooms in person with students, he said, “this needs to be organized a lot better and a lot quicker.”