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SPS staff to get COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines will soon be available to Suffolk Public Schools employees.

Chief of Administrative Services Dr. Suzanne Rice said during the School Board’s Jan. 14 meeting that the school division has worked with the city’s health department “to roll out the vaccine” and that a memo had been sent to employees earlier in the day.

She said that as of late afternoon, the division had 800 people who had registered for the vaccination, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 25-26 at King’s Fork High School.

The Western Tidewater Health District, which has been using its Medical Reserve Corps to provide the vaccine to first responders in the region, including Suffolk, will be providing the vaccine to employees.

All active division employees and substitutes, which includes PreK through 12th-grade teachers and staff, are eligible to receive the vaccination during Phase 1B.

There will be no out-of-pocket cost to division employees for the vaccine. Time slots are available for employees in one-hour increments, with a limited number of slots per hour to aid in traffic flow in and out of the school.

Staff members are asked to visit the SPS staff portal for more details and registration information.

News of SPS employees being able to get the vaccine comes as the city’s 7-day positivity rate was at 21.3% as of Jan. 14.

Gov. Ralph Northam and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane said during a news conference that while vaccinations are an important part of the state’s efforts to get public schools around the state reopened, it doesn’t mean schools cannot reopen to in-person instruction if staff members are not vaccinated.

The only other school division in the Hampton Roads region that has had employees get the vaccine thus far is Chesapeake Public Schools.