DC mayor details plans for return of high school sports, expands vaccine eligibility

Now with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the mix, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said all teachers and staff working for a school or child care facility, including those who aren’t teaching in person, will be eligible to preregister for a vaccine appointment starting next week.

Bowser said over 3,000 teachers have already been vaccinated. She encouraged those who haven’t yet received the vaccine to use the preregistration system.

“I don’t want anybody to think that D.C. teachers haven’t been vaccinated,” Bowser said. “There are teachers who are working at home and will work at home for the rest of the year that we have also. Then there are others who are working at home now who will come in. We actually think the group of teachers who remains to be vaccinated is not that large.”

District residents who are 16- or 17-years-old and have a qualifying medical condition (and are not an existing patient of Children’s National Hospital or HSC) can preregister for a vaccination at Children’s National Hospital.

Bowser also discussed the return of high school sports and the status of the fencing around the Capitol.

What DC residents can expect to see while preregistering online

D.C.’s Chief Technology Officer Lindsey Parker broke down what residents will see when they visit the District’s preregistration site next week, following frustrations from last week, when the city’s site was hit with technical issues.

“One of the solutions that we’ve worked closely with, especially over this past week, has been the vaccination appointment scheduling system,” Parker said. “We want people to become familiar with what they need to do.”

While preregistering, residents will fill out a questionnaire asking for their background details to determine their readiness to receive the vaccine. An email will be sent to confirm that preregistration has been completed. When the time comes for a resident to schedule a vaccine appointment, an email, phone call or text will be sent out, at which time residents can select one of the three available vaccines, a time and date for the appointment and finally the site where they would be administered the vaccine.

A full step-by-step the process can be found online.

Bowser said there are currently no plans to have a large-scale walk-up site where people can get a vaccine without an appointment.

“Things need to be done decently and in order,” she said. “And it is very frustrating for people to come stand on queue for hours — we know this from H1N1 — and be told ‘We’re out of vaccine.'”

She said that the appointment system would provide a better “customer experience, and it’s what the public wants.”

DC high school sports could resume March 15

Bowser also said the District has a plan to resume high school sports programs March 15.

Programs will be opened back up in phases, with sports that have the least amount of contact or no contact going first.

Phases will be broken down in categories of re-engagement, skill development and eventually practices.

The mayor said the date is tentative, and any significant change in the COVID-19 metrics in the city could temporarily delay the plan.

“It has been made very clear to us from schools and parents that they want some planning time [before sports resume],” Bowser said. “And we’re being as helpful as we can with that. The expectation is that sports will resume in phases with the lowest contact or no contact activities, beginning first and proceed accordingly and safely.”

“[W]e emphasize tentative because we continue to monitor the impact of the spread of variants and how that might affect our experience with COVID,” Bowser said. “So let me just be perfectly candid that we hope on March 15, that this plan moves forward.”

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

WTOP’s Will Vitka and Zeke Hartner contributed to this report.

Glynis Kazanjian

Glynis Kazanjian has been a freelance writer covering Maryland politics and government on the local, state and federal levels for the last 11 years. Her work is published in Maryland Matters, the Baltimore Post Examiner, Bethesda Beat and Md. Reporter. She has also worked as a true crime researcher.

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