CANFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – The Educational Service Center for Mahoning County is handling the vaccine distribution for school employees in Mahoning County and parts of Columbiana County. They’ve scheduled vaccinations for nearly 3,500 employees in the next few days.
All of these workers are essential to school operations, and that included school board members, according to the ESC.
Just two days ago Governor Dewine ordered that board members should not be a part of Phase 1B of vaccine distribution for K-12 schools.
We received some tips into our newsroom that members of the Canfield School School Board were vaccinated.
Traci Hostetler is the superintendent of Mahoning County Educational Service Center and is coordinating the vaccines. She says the original directive from the governor’s office to determine who is “essential” for school operations was vague, and they were left to determine who is essential on their own. She says the new directive that board members should not be included came too late.
“The governor’s office let us know very early on that we’re ‘building the plane as we fly it,’ but my plane was airborne,” Hostetler said. “We were directed to determine who is deemed essential for K-12 operations. That was the guidance.”
And getting essential workers vaccinated.
“Basically, everybody, school bus drivers, aides, substitute teachers, regular teachers, principals, superintendents, OTP, speech, psych, and we counted all of our board members,’ Hostetler said.
This week, the Ohio Department of Health said the list of people to be vaccinated should be limited to people who interact with school children on a regular basis and are “necessary for the in-person instruction and service.”
The directive further goes onto say that school board members should not be included: (Source: Ohio Department of Health)
Only K-12 school employees who are necessary to the operation of in-person instruction and services for students will be eligible for vaccination. This includes:
- Teachers and long-term substitutes
- Bus drivers and cafeteria workers
- Environmental and building services workers
- Other adults in school district buildings who regularly interact with students and have a contractual relationship with the district (such as office personnel, aides, non-teaching staff, coaches, etc.)
The program does NOT include school board members, parent volunteers, or early-childhood providers.
“The governor said on Feb. 2, which was two days ago, our shots were ordered on Jan. 25. Our final numbers were turned in on Jan. 22. On Jan. 19, we had a meeting with the governor’s office…none of that was mentioned,” Hostetler said. “It was not until two days ago that we were told board members were not included.”
Giant Eagle administered the vaccines at the clinic. Hostetler says she ordered 3,474 shots, but Giant Eagle ordered 3,500, exactly 26 doses more than requested. We asked why not send the extra doses back to the county to be redistributed.
“I don’t think anyone here is trying to outsmart a system. We were given late advice, and I had to make the decision whether or not I was going to stand by my word and vaccinate the people I promised,” Hostetler said. ” We deemed our boards as essential workers. I was told by Giant Eagle no more adjustments to shots.”
Teachers started signing up for the vaccine about six weeks ago. Close to 80% agreed to get a shot. Another event is planned for Friday in Boardman and then Saturday in Columbiana.
The ESC clinics are scheduled to vaccinate 1,000 people per day.