Maryland School System Partners with Firefighters to Administer COVID-19 Vaccine

"Having Fire Department personnel administer vaccines will help us get more employees vaccinated more quickly."

Anne Arundel County firefighters will help vaccinate staff

Rachael Pacella, The Capital, Annapolis, Md.

(MCT)

Jan. 22–Anne Arundel County Public Schools will need to administer as many as 14,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and in a letter to staff Thursday, Superintendent George Arlotto said he plans to partner with the fire department to get the job done.

While the rate of coronavirus cases has been declining since mid-January, Anne Arundel County’s rate per 100,000 was 43.58 Friday. County health officials have said public schools should be closed to all students when the rate exceeds 15, but that standard could change as teachers and school staff are vaccinated against COVID-19.

In a presentation to the Board of Education, Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kaylanaraman said he would revise the metrics for reopening this month to factor in the vaccinations of school staff, who became eligible for shots this week.

In the message to staff Thursday, Arlotto said, “The plan at this point” is to vaccinate staff at a central location, Severna Park High School. This is where the Anne Arundel County Fire Department Comes in.

“We are tremendously indebted to Chief (Trisha) Wolford and her team for their dedication to this effort,” he wrote. “Having Fire Department personnel administer vaccines will help us get more employees vaccinated more quickly and alleviate additional pressures on Department of Health personnel.”

The school board has ordered the superintendent to begin returning as many students as possible to school buildings no later than March 1. In the motion, Board member Robert Silkworth said he was considering that the county has committed to vaccinating public school teachers by the end of February.

Captain Russ Davies, a spokesperson for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, said that between Jan. 6 and Jan. 10, fire department workers administered 2,000 doses of vaccine to people from the Anne Arundel County Police Department, Annapolis Police Department, and other public safety agencies. The vaccinations took place at the Anne Arundel County Fire Training Academy in Millersville.

On Thursday, Gov. Larry Hogan urged districts to start bringing students back by March, a request in line with the board’s decision.

The local boards of education make decisions on reopening, not Hogan, but he said, “If school systems do not immediately begin a good faith effort to return to classrooms, we will explore every legal avenue at our disposal.”

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