A family walks in to Main Street Elementary School to pick up learning supplies on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021.
(Kevin Painchaud/Lookout Santa Cruz)
COVID K-12

‘Next week or so’: Vaccination of all teachers, support staff in reach in Santa Cruz County

By Sunday, about half of all K-12 teachers and support staff in Santa Cruz County are set to have received their initial COVID-19 doses. Education officials hope to vaccinate the rest out of the group of roughly 5,000 as soon as next week.

Vaccination of all teachers and support staff in Santa Cruz County appears within reach as a partnership with a private network continues to pan out for local educators.

About 2,600 K-12 teachers and support staff — roughly half the total — will have received their first of two jabs of COVID-19 vaccine by Sunday, according to Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools Faris Sabbah.

And Sabbah said he is now hopeful the remaining K-12 staff will receive their first dose in short order.

COVID K-12

COVID K-12, Lookout’s overview of COVID-19’s impact on education, is among eight Lookout initiatives documenting all aspects of the pandemic this year. For more, go to our COVID 2021 section, sign up for COVID Text Alerts and our COVID PM newsletter here, and leave feedback and ask questions at the end of this story.

“We’re hoping that, in the next week or so, that 100% of our K-12 personnel will be vaccinated,” Sabbah said Thursday, addressing the Santa Cruz County Board of Education.

Earlier vaccination plans for educators were upended amid a shortage in dosages and the county government’s continued prioritization of those ages 65 and up.

But the tide quickly turned as the Santa Cruz County Office of Education forged a partnership with Dignity Health, the network that operates Dominican Hospital.

Starting with a clinic Feb. 11, education officials prioritized teachers and staff working with the youngest students first to pave the way for a phased reopening of schools starting in March.

With vaccinations falling into place, all 10 Santa Cruz County school districts last week announced plans to reopen elementary schools for hybrid in-person learning in March and April.

Staff vaccination is not required for a wider return school campuses but it has become a line in the sand for teacher and classified staff unions, which must be consulted on any reopening those plans.

Hundreds of child care workers and Cabrillo College staff have also received their first vaccination dose, according to Sabbah.

And vaccinations are already ongoing for some staff at UC Santa Cruz, a campus spokesman said earlier this month. UCSC is progressing through staff ages 65 and up before turning to on-site workers with an allocation through the UC system of about 200 doses per week.