Middletown teachers hope first school vaccines in Butler County start path ‘back to some normalcy’

Ohio’s first group of teachers to receive the coronavirus vaccine said Wednesday they appreciate it and hope the injections in Middletown are a major step to eventually returning all schools to a pre-pandemic normal.

About 500 Middletown school teachers and staffers came to the district’s high school for scheduled appointments to receive the first of two vaccine injections to protect them from contracting the coronavirus.

ExploreMiddletown teachers get Ohio’s first COVID-19 vaccine shots for school staffers

They were the first among Ohio’s teachers and staffers to receive the injections, the city said.

Across the region, more school districts – and private school employees – will begin to receive their shots as city and county health officials roll out vaccine distribution.

“This is just a step closer to getting everybody back kind of somewhat normal and we’re all excited,” said Middletown High School teacher Shawn Thomas after getting his shot.

Fellow Middletown teacher Joe Stringer said the shots are a key step to halting the rollercoaster scheduling that has seen his school district and others across the region fluctuate between remote learning from home and hybrid schedules in response to spikes in the number of coronavirus cases in recent months.

“We can’t keep doing what we are doing so if this helps and gets us back to some normalcy, then I’m all for it,” said Stringer.

Middletown Schools are covered under the city’s department of health, which arranged the vaccine distribution.

Both school and city officials touted their close working relationship.

Jackie Phillips, health commissioner for Middletown, was at the school watching teachers receive the first of the two required injections to help protect them from the coronavirus.

“I have been working with Superintendent (Marlon Styles Jr.) for six weeks … knowing this day would come. We are just excited,” said Phillips. “Teachers are no different than my elderly population, healthcare workers. I want to get everybody vaccinated who wants to be vaccinated.”

Private school employees in the Middletown area are planned to receive their vaccine injections next week, said Phillips.

Shelby Quinlivan, spokeswoman for Middletown, said “one of the benefits of having a city health department is being able to work closely with local organizations to move as quickly as possible in any public health situation.”

Chris Brown, superintendent of the Butler County Educational Services Center (BCESC), said other school systems will soon follow Middletown’s lead.

Brown said the BCESC’s coordination with public and private schools in distributing protective face masks put the county in the forefront for being the first to give teachers shots.

Explore300K free masks coming to area schools to help with coronavirus

“We have worked closely with all three (health departments in the county) throughout this pandemic and feel that our coordination of a countywide mask distribution in 2020 demonstrated our ability to move quickly and communicate effectively as an educational services center,” he said.

Brown said most area school personnel will receive the vaccination on either Wednesday, Thursday or Friday of next week with an estimated 1,700 vaccinations planned each day.

He said state officials have also contracted with Kroger to provide administration of the vaccine. Sites will be closed to the general public, and school personnel will utilize a secure link to register and will be required to provide specific identification and documentation to enter both locations to receive their vaccination.

During their scheduled vaccine days, most schools and districts have made individualized plans to either provide remote learning for students, observe a calamity day, or rotate their staff to remain in-person as scheduled.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has set a March 1 goal for all K-12 students to return to live classes.

Area school officials urged families of students to check their local school district and building websites for dates and further details regarding temporary class schedule changes to accommodate school employees receiving their vaccines.

Styles was among the hundreds at Middletown High School to roll up his sleeve for an injection and he was glad to do it.

“The COVID-19 vaccine means all educators are one step closer to a healthy future,” he said.

As about 500 teachers and other school employees in Middletown Schools received their first of two coronavirus vaccine shots Wednesday, some other area districts have announced their own plans for inoculating their school employees.

School officials urge families to check local school district and building websites for dates and details.

Lakota: Feb. 3 for first shot. Feb. 24 for second shot

Fairfield: Feb. 5 and Feb. 26

Hamilton: Feb. 12 and March 12

Middletown: Jan. 27 and Feb. 24

Monroe: Feb. 5 and Feb. 26

Talawanda: Feb. 4 and TBD

Edgewood: Feb. 4 and Feb. 25

Ross: TBD

New Miami: TBD

Madison: Feb. 4 and Feb. 25

Butler Tech: TBD

Mason: TBD

Kings: TBD

Miami University: TBD

Photographer Nick Graham contributed to this story

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