Ridgefield's excited schools are prioritized in vaccine plan

Bridget Bethray RN, with RVNAhealth administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Sherwin Gorenstein, of Ridgefield, in the RVNA clinic in the Yanity Gym, on Thursday morning, February 4, 2021, in Ridgefield, Conn.

Bridget Bethray RN, with RVNAhealth administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Sherwin Gorenstein, of Ridgefield, in the RVNA clinic in the Yanity Gym, on Thursday morning, February 4, 2021, in Ridgefield, Conn.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

RIDGEFIELD - Superintendent Susie Da Silva gave “the best news I can give everyone tonight” at this week’s school board meeting when she was able to share that teachers were now prioritized in the state’s vaccination plan.

The vaccination window for school staff and childcare providers, along with those at least 55 years old, will begin March 1, the state announced Monday. The new plan expands to those 45 and older on March 22, those at least 35 on April 12 and those at least 16 on May 3.

“We are excited about the opportunity and are looking forward to providing this option for educators,” Da Silva said. “We will be working with our local health director to determine next steps. That said, we have to be sure to manage expectations as there are many individuals who will be accessing this new window at the same time.”

Barlow Mountain Elementary School nurse Lynn Isaac also said she was excited about the new plan.

“We’re excited for everyone to get vaccinated but particularly happy that there is this accelerated program to get teachers and school workers vaccinated as soon as possible within the next month,” she said.

Aaron Crook, Ridgefield’s director of nursin, welcomed the news.

“RPS is thrilled that beginning Monday, March 1 teachers and school staff will have the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Crook said. “We are providing registration support and answering questions to make the process as simple as possible.”

The new eligibility took many by surprise throughout the state, as essential workers and those with medical conditions had been discussed as the possible next group. But Gov. Ned Lamont and his administration stressed this shift streamlines what they said was a complicated process.

More accurate estimates under that original approach showed the number of possible eligible front-line workers was closer to 1.5 million. There were also a lot of questions within those groups on who was actually eligible, officials said.

During a press conference on Monday, Lamont said it was important to vaccinate teachers and school staff so they could keep the schools open and get children back in the classroom.

Da Silva shared a similar sentiment on Monday.

“We do believe that by having our educators vaccinated, it gives us the best chance of keeping our schools open,” she said.

School officials are working to upload employees into the Vaccine Administration Management System, she said.

“We are still coordinating all the details with the town, but a significant piece will simply be the number of vaccines that are available locally or within the state,” Da Silva said.

The administration is well prepared to move ahead as quickly as possible once Monday comes around. They will do whatever they can to support educators in accessing their appointments so that, Da Silva said, “we can move along in the interest of our kids and our families and of course the safety of our entire community.”