Ann Arbor-area teachers to receive COVID-19 vaccines on Saturday

Nurse Kristy Smyth preps a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Michigan Stadium on Dec. 31, 2020.
Nurse Kristy Smyth preps a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Michigan Stadium on Dec. 31, 2020. (Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR – The Washtenaw County Health Department has announced that approximately 1,200 local teachers will get vaccinated against COVID-19 on Saturday.

In partnership with Michigan Medicine and IHA, the Health Department is allotting this week’s vaccine supply from the state toward the effort as districts begin to reopen ahead of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposed goal date of March 1.

“Limited vaccine supplies continue to hamper our local efforts to reach everyone currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccination,” Jimena Loveluck, health officer for Washtenaw County Health Department said in a statement. “This week, we’re grateful to have enough doses available to team up with Michigan Medicine and IHA to offer vaccination to our early elementary educators as efficiently as possible.”

Ann Arbor Public Schools, whose Board of Education will be voting Wednesday on a plan to stay virtual for the remainder of the year, released the following statement:

Since the January announcement that K-12 educators would be eligible for vaccination, we have been disappointed that Washtenaw County has lagged behind other counties in achieving these critical goals. This promising turn of events is the result of the advocacy work of many.

Certainly, this news will inform the recommendation the Board of Education will consider tomorrow at our meeting, now scheduled at noon.

The Board received substantial backlash over its decision at last week’s meeting to rush a vote on staying virtual. Since their meeting, a group of parents raised enough money to start a PAC against AAPS and the city’s mayor and six councilmembers sent a letter to the School Board president urging the district to set a firm date to transition to a hybrid model.

AAPS also announced on Tuesday that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has permitted the district to conduct rapid testing of staff and students in school buildings, which the district called a “game-changer” in the safe return to schools along with teacher vaccinations.

“Thank you to US Representative Debbie Dingell, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Senator Jeff Irwin, State Representatives Felicia Brabec, Donna Lasinski, Ronnie Peterson, Yousef Rabhi and advocates from across our community,” reads Tuesday’s AAPS announcement. “We are grateful for their work with the Governor’s team to resolve the issues that delayed getting vaccines to K-12 staff across Washtenaw County compared to communities across the rest of the state.

“We recognize the distress this situation has caused for our AAPS community, particularly the members of our community that have been most heavily impacted by the pandemic.”

Now, all eyes are on Wednesday’s meeting to see which way the School Board will vote.


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