Hartford teachers and school staff are beginning to get vaccinated against the coronavirus today.
Now, with vaccines becoming available, the school district is vaccinating teachers today and Friday at Saint Francis Hospital.
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"When we closed schools, almost a year ago today, our schools changed forever. We know that we had to at the drop of a hat figure out how to make learning accessible to students in a way that was equitable and we know that we are still trying to find that out, knowing that some students cannot access their best learning," Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, superintendent of Hartford Public Schools, said.
During a two-day clinic, 1,500 educators and staff within Hartford Public Schools are expected to receive a vaccination at Saint Francis Hospital, according to Trinity Health of New England.
"I’m feeling relieved, obviously. I keep on saying that I think this is a good step not just for myself but our community at large. I think it’s time to move forward so bringing myself some relief and the people that I work with and service every day also bringing them that relief," Elizabeth Nieves, a school social worker, said.
Torres-Rodriguez said with the vaccinations, students will be able to get back to classrooms and have access to the resources they need and the social, emotional and economical support they need.
The vaccinations coupled with the safety protocols that have been in place will allow that to happen, the superintendent said.
The first to receive the vaccinations will be educators and staff working with pre-K through eighth grade.
Torres-Rodriguez said the district prioritized these staff members because this group has the largest number of students who are in school in-person.
"As the weeks continue to progress and vaccinations continue to become available, we will have all our students back in our schools later on this fall," Torres-Rodriguez said.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said moving to distance learning was profoundly disruptive. He said the city needs to get students back into the classroom as quickly as possible and the vaccines are the way to do it.
The city of Hartford has around 2,800 school staff members and there will be two rounds of vaccines.
Gov. Ned Lamont said there is no alternative for in-person learning.
"It's going to take time for some people, but that's what it takes," Lamont said.
Vaccinations are set to take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The schools that are part of Cohort 1 will be operating on a half-day schedule for staff to have an opportunity to get their shots.
School vaccination schedule for Cohort 1:
Thursday, March 4:
- Breakthrough North
- Environmental Science Magnet
- Expeditionary Learning at Moylan
- Kinsella (PreK-8)
- MD Fox
- Noah Webster Microsociety
Friday March 5
- Annie Fisher STEM
- Breakthrough South
- Burns Latino Studies
- Capital Prep (PreK-8)
- Global Communications
- Hartford PreK Magnet
- Montessori at Annie Fisher
- Montessori at Batchelder
- West Middle
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Who Can Get a COVID-19 Vaccine in Connecticut
- The state started the vaccine rollout in mid-December by vaccinating healthcare personnel, long-term care facility residents and medical first responders.
- As of mid-January, Connecticut residents 75 and older have been able to sign up for an appointment and get a vaccine.
- Connecticut residents 55 and older can sign up and get an appointment.
- Pre-K-12 Teachers, paraprofessionals, custodial staff, food service providers, school bus drivers and childcare providers as well as in-school administrative staff. This group does not include individuals who are not required to work on-site in a school.
- Note: Pre-K-12 school staff and teachers, and professional child care providers will be eligible for the vaccine.
- People 45 to 55
- People 16 and up
Note:To get a vaccine in Connecticut, you must either live or work in the state. If you typically visit a provider here but do not live or work in Connecticut, you are not eligible and must get vaccinated in your home state.
A news conference will be held at 9 a.m.
Monday was the first day that teachers, school staff and childcare professionals were eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine unless they met eligibility requirements for earlier phases.