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Pharmacists including Kaitin Ostic (right) administered COVID-19 vaccinations Friday to 500 Westlake City School District teachers and staff such as secretary Jeanette Kruse (left) at no cost.

WESTLAKE

After months of hybrid instruction, Westlake High School students were scheduled to return to full-time in-person learning Tuesday.

Before that could happen, school officials organized a districtwide vaccination clinic for teachers and staff. The clinic took place Friday at Westlake High School as part of the district’s push to reopen entirely on March 2, Superintendent Scott Goggin said.

“This is a great first step to get our schools reopened,” he said. “The easier we make this for our staff, the more staff would be interested in getting it. So far, about 85% of our staff have received the vaccine.”

As part of a partnership with Discount Drug Mart in Westlake, about 500 staff and teachers received the first round of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Teachers will get their second shot on March 12, according to the district.

Vaccinations were given near the auditorium of Westlake High School. Five pharmacists worked from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. giving shots to teachers, who came in every three minutes. After the shot, teachers and staff waited in the school’s cafeteria to see if they would experience any side effects, Goggin said.

“This was essential for a variety of reasons,” he said of the clinic. “Most importantly, this keeps our teachers out of stores that are administering the vaccine so that other older residents can have an easier time getting it.”

Only a handful of teachers or staff declined to be vaccinated, Goggin said.

Work on the clinic began late last month when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced the vaccination schedule for schools on Jan. 29. The goal is to get school districts reopened by March 1. Teachers in Cuyahoga County became eligible for vaccinations Feb. 8, according to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.

At the beginning of the month, officials started collecting health data for each of their teachers to create a vaccination schedule. The goal was to make sure no vaccine went to waste. It was the hardest part about putting the clinic together, Goggin said.

“I was worried at first because this is such a new vaccine,” said Westlake High School secretary Jeanette Kruse. “This is good for everyone, and it allows our students the chance to return to a normal education. I think there’s a need for that peer-to-peer interaction that learning online doesn’t provide.”

The Westlake City School District has been in hybrid-learning mode since September.

Since last week, more than 23,000 school staff were expected to get the vaccine at the Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio in Independence. That's more than 1,900 people a day, and 240 people an hour, according to the center.

So far, Westlake is the only district in the west shore that administered vaccinations at one of its campuses.

“I feel very fortunate to be able to have something like this at the school,” Kruse said. “The district made it extremely accessible for us, and I look forward to being back in school.”

Contact this reporter at akamczyc@westlifenews.com or 216-307-6614.

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