121820_dr_Vaccine_4a (copy)

A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine sits at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire before being used to vaccinate health care workers in December. Employees of the Eau Claire school district will be offered the vaccine as part of Wisconsin’s Phase 1B, schools Superintendent Mike Johnson said Monday.

EAU CLAIRE — Employees of the Eau Claire school district are on track to be offered the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks.

District employees who provide health care to students were offered COVID-19 vaccines starting Friday as part of Wisconsin’s Phase 1A, said Eau Claire schools Superintendent Mike Johnson.

All other Eau Claire school district employees who aren’t in Phase 1A will be offered the vaccination in Phase 1B, Johnson said. That will include teachers.

The state has not yet formally confirmed what groups will be offered the vaccine in Phase 1B. But a state advisory committee last week recommended that people 70 and older, teachers, police and fire workers and people living in congregate living facilities should be included in Phase 1B.

DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk has said the state anticipates opening up Phase 1B before the end of January.

“Phase 1B is going to include all district employees not included in 1A, probably 1,250 other staff members,” Johnson said at a Monday school board meeting. “This week principals, directors and supervisors will meet with staff members to talk about considerations in Phase 1B. They will pass those on to district staff who are coordinating with the (Eau Claire City-County) Health Department.”

The state is currently vaccinating people in Phase 1A, which includes about 550,000 health care workers and residents of assisted living and nursing homes.

Eau Claire County has given out 6,145 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, according to state data. Wisconsin has distributed almost 236,000 doses as of Monday.

Almost 36,000 Wisconsin residents have received the full two-dose regimen. (Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses; the Pfizer doses must be given three weeks apart and the Moderna doses must be four weeks apart.)

The state Department of Health Services has yet to officially designate which groups of people will be a part of Phase 1B.

The state advisory committee has estimated there are 160,000 teachers and child care providers who would be eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1B if the DHS approves its recommendations.

In other school district news:

  • The Eau Claire school board is set to vote in February on a new policy that would bar people from using the school district’s names, logos, symbols, mottos and mascots in political materials or to promote or oppose political viewpoints. Faculty, staff and students would be allowed to use district logos and other materials in internal documents or for educational purposes, according to the policy. But anyone who wants to use district trademarks for retail or endorsements would have to get written permission first.
  • The board voted Monday to close several sites to open-enrolled students for the 2021-2022 school year, including Northstar Middle School’s ARCTIC Zone program, Prairie Ridge Early Learning Center and the district’s eight special education cluster sites. The board also voted to allow school officials to place open-enrolled students at either Memorial or North high schools. Since 2017, all open-enrolled high school students were funneled to North to balance uneven enrollment numbers, but enrollment at North is now nearing 100%, according to district projections.
  • The board also declared and denied its support for 10 different statewide school-related resolutions that the Wisconsin Association of School Boards will consider at its annual assembly on Jan. 20. The board voted to deny its support for a new, statewide 1-cent sales tax for public school districts to maintain facilities and upgrade technology (some board members said they disagreed with the proposal of using a sales tax to support schools, noting that sales tax revenue per capita is uneven among Wisconsin municipalities.) The board voted to support a measure expressing support for implementing far-reaching broadband internet access across the state; a measure that would allow the state and individual districts flexibility when assessing students and school districts in years with pandemics or statewide disasters; and several others.
  • The board on Monday held a question-and-answer session on coherent governance, a governing model that dictates how school boards function. The session was led by two members of the DeForest School Board, a southern Wisconsin school board that operates under the coherent governance model.
  • The board approved salary increases for district employees in 13 positions, as part of a new salary review program. The increases will be backdated to July 1, 2020, since the program was intended to begin in 2020 but was pushed back due to the pandemic.

Contact: 715-833-9206, sarah.seifert@ecpc.com, @sarahaseifert on Twitter

Sarah Seifert is the L-T's education and health reporter. She has worked as a journalist in the Chippewa Valley since 2017 and joined the L-T in 2019. Get in touch at sarah.seifert@ecpc.com or on Twitter @sarahaseifert.