Dear Team DPS,
I hope you're having a good start to the semester, and I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with the updated information we've just received today on the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine for our school-based staff. Please know we've been working over the winter break and then non-stop for the past several days to try and get a clear understanding of the state's plan to get our essential, front-line staff vaccinated. We've also been contacting all of our health partners and health-care providers in an effort to develop a plan to start vaccinating our staff.
We had a call with Gov. Jared Polis today, and it helped provide some clarity on the situation. The governor stated emphatically that the focus of vaccination efforts right now is on the high-priority "above the line" group of Phase 1B: "health care workers with less direct contact with COVID-19" and people aged 70 and older. Today the governor confirmed that this includes school nurses. We expect to be in contact very soon with those DPS staff members now eligible to receive the vaccine with details about how to schedule your first vaccination appointment.
Gov. Polis emphasized that teachers and other "frontline essential workers in education" are in the second group of Phase 1B and are expected to begin receiving vaccinations in early March, after the Phase 1B high-priority group has been vaccinated. And as a reminder, the COVID-19 vaccination requires two doses, with the second dose expected to be given several weeks after receiving the first.
That is a summary of the plan that the governor shared directly with superintendents today. And I want to emphasize that we will continue to work hard and spare no effort to get the vaccine to our staff as soon as possible and within the state's framework. The approval of the vaccine and the beginning of its rollout have been a much-needed boost during such a challenging and anxiety-filled school year. And we will do everything in our power to try and get the vaccine to our people as soon as possible.
Adding to the confusion and frustration of the past few days has been reports that other area school districts were planning to begin a wide-scale distribution of the vaccine to staff. We addressed that with the governor and were informed that the vaccine is only being made available to nursing and healthcare staff in schools at this time. (This Denver Post story also provides additional information on the confusion surrounding the rollout of the vaccine.)
We will be providing you with additional information tomorrow as we move toward the start of in-person learning in elementary schools on Monday. I just wanted to take this opportunity tonight to update you on the vaccine availability and to assure you that nothing is taking a higher priority.
I'll be sure to keep all of Team DPS updated as we get more details on our vaccination plans and schedule. Thank you for all of your feedback and for the tenacity you've shown in advocating for our schools and our kids.