Naples Daily News | by Rachel Fradette | March 11, 2021
Collier school district employees will have more access to coronavirus vaccines starting this week.
The district opened 1,000 appointments for eligible employees older than 50 this week in partnership with North Collier Fire and Rescue, the district announced at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
Local health officials and the Collier County School Board discussed during a health update Tuesday what the remainder of the school year could look like for students and employees.
Masks, a frequent topic of debate, are likely to stay through the end of the year, according to board discussion.
There are no current changes to health and safety measures, according to the district.
“The current health and safety measures are in place to protect students and staff, as well as to limit the community spread of COVID-19,” Chad Oliver, Collier school district spokesman wrote in a statement.
Collier school employee vaccinations
As of March 1, more than 240 school employees have received both doses of the vaccine developed by Moderna, according to the district.
The school district projects another group of employees will have a full round of vaccinations by the end of April.
Vaccinations for employees 50 and older will be set up at two vaccination sites, Palmetto Ridge High School and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. school administration building.
Dr. David Lindner, medical director of NCH’s COVID-19 unit, said at the Tuesday meeting that it’s “normative behavior” or common practice to be vaccinated and cited the polio and smallpox vaccines.
“Ending the COVID-19 pandemic will rely on a vast majority of people ultimately becoming vaccinated. Otherwise this will continue to be on this smoldering process,” Lindner said.
Employers, like the school district, should provide support and information to employees on vaccines, he said.
The school district encourages employees to get vaccinated but they are not requiring it.
Every student and staff member in Collier Schools will receive a new face mask at the start of the second semester. Courtesy Of Collier County Public Schools.
“When we can get them (employees) vaccinated then we can talk about removing the masks,” board member Jen Mitchell said. “I think it’s going to be very difficult to wrap our brains around going into the fall with masks on.”
What’s happening with masks in Collier schools?
Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, board member Stephanie Lucarelli said she predicts students will be wearing masks until school’s out.
She hopes that by continuing a requirement through the end of the year, kids will not be required to wear them by fall, she said.
During a presentation to the board in November, health officials said they weren’t seeing outbreaks in schools.
At the November meeting, Lindner said that masks and other health strategies were helping to curb the spread of COVID-19 in schools, which he reiterated Tuesday.
“Everyone says, ‘Well, these simple masks are not good enough to actually prevent the virus,’ and that statement would be true,” Lindner said. “However, they are good enough to prevent the droplets which the virus resides in.”