Butler County school district employees to get COVID vaccinations


Photo by Sara Coy

Students at Talawanda High School and all other schools in the district will have to do their schoolwork at home on Feb. 4 and Feb. 25, while the district employees travel to West Chester to get COVID-19 vaccinations.

By Sara Coy

Talawanda School District’s faculty and staff will line up for their first COVID-19 vaccinations  Thursday, Feb. 4, while the students all stay home and do assigned work.

The process will be repeated Thursday, Feb. 25, when the faculty and staff are scheduled to receive their second vaccinations.

The vaccination days were announced Tuesday and Wednesday on the school district’s blog.

The district will not provide school bus service on the vaccination days to students living in the district and attending Butler Tech, private and parochial schools, according to the announcement. 

Holli Morrish, director of communication and public relations for the district, said although the vaccinations are not required by the district, most employees are very excited about the opportunity to get them.

“I’ve received tons of emails from people who just want to make sure they can get it,” she said.

The shots are being given under phase 1B of Ohio’s multi-phased vaccination program, which includes school employees for grades K-12.  Unfortunately, the amount of available vaccine doses are limited, so others in phase 1B cannot be vaccinated at the event Feb. 4. This opportunity is strictly for the employees of Talawanda and other school districts in Butler County.

Ohio’s goal is to get all schools in the state back to face-to-face instruction by March. As of this past week, about 30% of the state’s schools were still operating in remote-only mode.

The Butler County Educational Service Center is coordinating the school employee vaccinations for all districts in the county. The shots will be administered at schools in Lakota School District in West Chester, Morrish said. 

“I think that there are a lot of people who would like to get the vaccination and I think it’s a good thing that schools in Butler County are working with the Butler County Educational Service Center in order to create an opportunity for school employees to get that,” Morrish said.

The COVID-19 virus has killed more than 427,000 people in the United States as of Thursday, Jan. 28, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In November, the district had so many cases, the schools had a shortage of staff and personnel. The district moved the high school and middle school to online instruction while assigning extra personnel to the three elementary schools to keep them open.

“Our theory is we felt like our secondary students had the best capability to learn remotely,” Morrish said. “We don’t think remote learning is an ideal option. We think in-person school is the best option for most students and staff members, certainly, but in a crisis like this pandemic, we’ve had to do some things that aren’t optimal so we did that and the hope was to keep those three elementary schools open.”

The lack of childcare available for elementary-age students also went into the decision to keep the elementary schools open, Morrish said.

Operating during the pandemic has been hard on the students, teachers and staff, Morrish said.

“I think there’s light at the end of the tunnel and we are moving closer to that, but we are not there yet and even vaccinating school staff that’s not going to get us there,” Morrish said. “We have more to go.”