Weekend mass vaccination planned for Prince William Co. teachers

More than 2,400 teachers and staff in Prince William County — the second-largest school district in Virginia — are scheduled to get their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine in mass-vaccination events Saturday and Sunday, according to School Board Chairman Dr, Babur Lateef.

The doses are being made available by the Novant Health UVA Health System, which operates two hospitals in Prince William County.

Scheduled appointments last week had been canceled by Inova due to a shortage in vaccines, because of a change in the way the state’s health department is allocating the vaccines. Most of the school system’s nearly 11,000 teachers and staff had been scheduled.

After several days of scrambling to secure more vaccinations, eligible teachers and staff are receiving emailed invitations for the Saturday and Sunday mass-vaccination events at Unity High School, in Manassas.

In the past few weekends, about 700 vaccinations have been administered to teachers and staff who are working inside buildings, and have documented underlying health conditions that put them at increased risk for complications related to the coronavirus.

Prince William Health District Director Dr. Alison Ansher has been working to secure additional dosages for teachers and staff who are currently working inside building, for hybrid learning of students in pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade.

Although future vaccination events are subject to availability of the vaccine, the school system is planning for additional mass vaccination events throughout February.

The Prince William County School Board will consider allowing older students to return to hybrid learning during a Feb. 17 meeting, after observing vaccination distribution and monitoring Centers for Disease Control and Prevention metrics.

After a spike in January, COVID-19 cases throughout the region and the nation are decreasing.

According to numbers presented to the school board, spread within the school system is dramatically lower than spread in the general population, including among students participating in 100% distance learning.

However, Prince William County has experienced its first “outbreak,” as defined by the Virginia Department of Health, at Charles J. Colgan, Sr. High School, in Manassas.

The department of health defines an outbreak as “two or more laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases,” within a 14-day period, involving people who don’t live in the same household. Parents of students in the school were notified in an email from principal Timothy Healey.

Although specifics about the affected people wasn’t made public because of privacy concerns, the school system says close contacts — fewer than 5 people — were notified and advised to quarantine.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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