Private school teachers eligible for vaccinations under Phase 1b

Private school teachers eligible for vaccinations under Phase 1b

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Richmond Raceway will play host the week of Jan. 18 to several vaccination events for some county employees across central Virginia, but that does not include private school employees.

The announcement made Jan. 15 by Henrico County left many private school teachers across the area confused.

“I surely hope they’re not putting private school teachers, or people who have been in-person at a lower priority,” said Joan Yates, a teacher at All Saints Catholic School in Richmond.

Yates is one of many teachers in the private school sector who reached out to NBC12 with questions.

While mass vaccination events are planned this week at the Richmond Raceway, Yates and others are not eligible for that event due to a county employee focus.

“The signup link was intended for use only by public school and public safety employees from Goochland, Hanover and Henrico counties and the City of Richmond — employees who are in the top three front-facing worker groups designated by the Virginia Department of Health for vaccination in Phase 1B,” a news release stated on Friday. “Although the Virginia Department of Health is sponsoring numerous public vaccination clinics, this event was not intended for the general public.”

“We absolutely acknowledge that in the past few days we have not met the marks around the organized process that all of us have goals for, but the good news is that is absolutely being corrected,” said Ruth Morrison, Policy Director for the Richmond & Henrico Health Districts (RHHD).

Morrison is clarifying, private school teachers will be vaccinated, but at other events, and the process needs to start with school administrators.

“This week we already have live communication happening with a number of private schools and more and more every day,” she said. “We’re going to be most efficient working with your administration because they will ultimately help us to enroll you as a teacher in the registration software for vaccination.”

That is how RHHD is handling vaccinations for private schools. As for other districts, she urges those private schools to contact their respected health districts.

Most of these schools have had in-person learning since August.

“We’re doing the masks, social distancing with our kids as much as we possibly can,” Yates said. “But hearing that the virus is spreading like crazy everywhere, we’re at risk.”

However, there are ongoing concerns about vaccine distribution. Morrison said when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said there were extra doses available, RHHD started on plans to ramp up production and availability.

“But then it was only a day or two later that we found out those extra doses would not be commensurate with the population who qualified in these categories,” Morrison said.

As it stands now, RHHD will focus on vaccinating the following groups first under Phase 1b:

  1. Police, Fire, and Hazmat
  2. Corrections and homeless shelter workers
  3. Childcare/PreK-12 Teachers/Staff (public and private)

“We’re still going to require of all [people] some ongoing patience; we’re getting there, you will, if you want access to vaccine, be vaccinated soon, but soon may not be tomorrow,” Morrison said.

“I do feel that those of us who have been in school probably should have priority first; I feel that’s more reasonable,” Yates said.

Morrison added RHHD is focused on making sure those with a higher exposure risk are at the top of the list to receive a vaccine. For private schools in Richmond and Henrico who have yet to contact the health district, click here.

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