Updated January 26, 2021 - 7:48 pm
Clark County School District employees can now register for invitations to schedule future COVID-19 vaccine appointments, after confusion at vaccination sites last week.
According to a memo that CCSD sent Tuesday afternoon, all district and charter school employees can register through the Education Point of Dispensing, hosted by the Nevada System of Higher Education.
The memo instructs employees to register online using their district email addresses, which will be used to cross-check their eligibility. Once eligible, employees will receive an invitation to schedule an appointment.
The news comes as pressure mounts for schools to reopen to students and as health officials say evidence continues to mount that it’s generally safe to have in-person schooling if mask-wearing is required and other precautions are taken.
A new study looks at schools in rural Wisconsin and found cases linked to in-school transmission were very low even while infections were common in the same communities.
The Wisconsin study was published online Tuesday by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. It focused on 17 schools in Wood County in central Wisconsin and found cases were diagnosed at a rate 37 percent lower than reported in the county overall.
In the Journal of the American Medical Association, Margaret Honein of the CDC and other CDC scientists say it’s reassuring that the kind of spread seen in nursing homes and other places hasn’t been noted in schools with prevention measures.
However, they say some extracurricular school-related activities, such as sports, have triggered coronavirus spread in some places.
Some get vaccination
Meanwhile, charter and private schools employees were able to schedule COVID-19 vaccination appointments for Tuesday morning at UNLV.
“It was easy compared to what I was seeing on the news last week,” said Michael Feil, an employee at Faith Lutheran Academy, a private school in Summerlin.
Like others who were vaccinated at UNLV on Tuesday morning, Feil said there was practically no wait from walking into the building to getting a shot in his arm.
Feil and other educators with private and charter schools said they scheduled appointments after links were sent out Monday night.
CCSD employees were not as lucky last week, when conflicting information led to some teachers being unable to schedule appointments.
Some CCSD employees were able to make appointments and be inoculated in recent weeks after the Southern Nevada Health District listed them among groups eligible to receive the vaccine. But some teachers reported they were turned away at inoculation sites, even though they had booked appointments.
A memo from the district last Thursday stated that only school “medical professionals” were able to schedule an appointment at UNLV, and others would be “turned away.”
District representatives said Friday that CCSD had not told employees that appointments were open to educators or sent links for all employees to make appointments. Teachers who did schedule appointments and showed up for the vaccinations were told they weren’t supposed to be able to register yet, said Michael Gardner, vice dean of clinical affairs for the UNLV School of Medicine and president and CEO of UNLV Medicine.
A relief for teachers
Most people receiving vaccinations at UNLV on Tuesday morning appeared to be charter or private school employees. Dana Wilson, Samantha Richards and Janet Roth, all teachers at Coral Academy of Science charter schools, went together to get their first dosage.
Roth said it was a relief for the teachers and for students’ parents that vaccinations were available.
“We just want to be safe and keep everyone safe, and go back to school,” she said.
The Review-Journal also spoke with two people in line for vaccinations at the College of Southern Nevada, Henderson, campus who identified themselves as charter school employees but declined to give their names or affiliations.
State Public Charter School Authority Executive Director Rebecca Feiden said Tuesday that the health district has indicated that vaccines would initially be available for around half of all charter school staff — or about 2,000 doses.
Feiden said she wasn’t sure how the health district arrived at that number. After some initial confusion about who was eligible to make an appointment online, Feiden said the charter authority met with UNLV and provided its list of schools and staffing information, so that the vaccination sites would know how many people to expect.
Of the authority’s 67 campuses, 42 are operating under a hybrid model that looks different from school to school.
Eight are operating under a limited in-person model and 17 are in full-time distance learning, though some of the latter are all-virtual even in nonpandemic times.
Staff at schools with distance learning were included in vaccine eligibility because many are considering reopening, Feiden said, and it can take several weeks for immunity to develop after a person receives a vaccine.
Ken Michnal and Laurie Malm, both employees with Odyssey Charter Schools, also received their vaccinations Tuesday morning and said they were thankful that appointments opened up at their workplace.
“They want you to go back to work, but without the COVID shot you put yourself at risk, especially in our age group,” said Malm, who is 68.
Odyssey Charter Schools are sponsored by CCSD, but a district representative directed questions to the school, which is governed by its own board. It did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Contact Katelyn Newberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writers Aleksandra Appleton and Sam Gordon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.