Schuyler Community Schools will stay in-person this school year while facing uncertainty regarding upcoming COVID-19 vaccinations. The tentative vaccine timeline has educators as part of group 1B.
Frontline health care workers are at the top of the list as group 1A. So are the staff and residents of long-term care facilities.
The East-Central District Health Department previously told the Sun that residents will need to continue wearing masks during vaccination because it is unclear how the virus will spread with the public inoculated. Schuyler Community Schools Superintendent Dan Hoesing echoed the sentiment, but for a different reason.
“Students aren’t on that list (for early vaccinations),” Hoesing said. “We would keep our same protocols, so it’s masks and hand sanitizing and it’s social distancing.”
Those same protocols are what kept the schools in-person, he said, adding he would be a little nervous if the protocols started changing.
“I don’t mind wearing a mask,” Hoesing said. “I think we’ve found ways to work with our staff. And our teachers are successful in the classroom, so as long as we can stay in session, we want to be ahead of the game.”
Schuyler Community Schools Foundation President and Board of Education Vice President Brian Vavricek noted teachers have been doing a good job.
“I am very excited that we have been able to keep our kids in school in the traditional sense and keep them in the classrooms and that we’ve been able to complete the athletic and activity seasons with minimal disruptions,” he said. “That is quite an achievement and an accomplishment.”
Keeping students in school is a testament to the work students and staff have done, Vavricek added, when it comes to taking COVID-19 seriously, as well as doing the right thing by taking care of themselves and those around them.
When it comes to the vaccines, he noted he is grateful that educators have been announced to be some of the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We’re just excited that we’ve been able to get this far,” Vavricek said.
Hoesing echoed the sentiment about educators receiving vaccines, saying it was a relief.
As of Friday, Jan. 8, around 179 educators had signed up, he noted, but it is unclear what sort of scheduling will be required for vaccinations. But, Hoesing said the schools are not anticipating not being in session.
Columbus Public Schools in nearby Columbus previously told the Sun that the district is switching from four days a week of school to five to prepare for COVID-19 vaccines. CPS is expecting to take partial or full Fridays off for vaccinations.
Hoesing said he is looking forward to more than just vaccines, though.
“It’s good to see our kids being involved in activities,” he said. “We do so few of the restrictions on crowds and, you know, we used to have to only allow people in who were directly connected with the family. Now we can go to 50% of the venue.”
Those who enter still have to sign in so, if necessary, the school can contact trace.
The school system plans to take what was learned from the first semester, continue to do that and hope there isn’t a virus spread that makes things change, he added.
“We’ve got to get through a couple of months and then maybe we’ll be out of the woods and get to spring sports and spring activities,” Hoesing said. “That’s really something to look forward to.”
Carolyn Komatsoulis is a reporter for the Schuyler Sun. Reach her via email at email@example.com.