MAPS scheduling vaccinations for staff: LMAS health dept. addresses demand

MARQUETTE — Marquette Area Public Schools continues to adapt to the COVID-19 situation.

At the Monday MAPS Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Bill Saunders provided an update on how the district is handling the pandemic.

Staff qualifies under the Phase 1B vaccination category, Saunders said.

To maintain a healthy face-to-face climate, the district must provide opportunities for staff vaccinations soon, he said.

Some staff were to receive the first round of vaccinations today, Saunders said, with the day changed to online learning.

MAPS has scheduled its second round of COVID-19 doses for staff who were vaccinated in the first group on Jan. 18 for Feb. 12, he said; for staff being vaccinated today, a second round is set for Feb. 26, with most employees to be covered in the first two groups.

Feb. 12 and 26 are scheduled to be half-days in school, so those will be moved to online learning, he said.

Vaccinations are expected to continue beyond the first two groups.

“We’ll certainly need a third round of vaccinations,” Saunders said. “We hire every day.”

The MAPS tiered response and extended learning plans for 2020-21, as well as the COVID Dashboard with case tracking, are on the district’s website at mapsnet.org.

Personnel changes also have been made.

“The high school has hired two part-time counselors to help interact with those kids who are struggling, to reach out to them, and we’re talking primarily our online students — trying to make those connections,” Saunders said.

MAPS also is part of a state pilot grant program, Graduation Alliance, that helps the district track and help struggling students.

“The biggest thing without having face-to-face education is really making those connections, and that’s where it’s easy for folks to get a little sideways,” Saunders said.

LMAS addresses vaccine demand

The Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft District Health Department provided an update on the vaccination situation in its four-county region.

As of Jan. 11, COVID-19 vaccine providers in Michigan were continuing to vaccinate health care workers in Phase 1A, while beginning to vaccinate those in parts of phases 1B and 1C, including persons age 65 and older, law enforcement, fire, school and day care personnel, corrections workers and child protection workers, it said.

As of Friday, Michigan moved to a population-based model for vaccine distribution, greatly reducing the vaccine available in the four counties, LMAS officials said. How much vaccine is received in counties each week depends on what the state receives in its allotment.

“What we know right now is that demand far exceeds the supply of COVID vaccine,” LMAS said in a statement. “LMAS is working with each of our four local hospitals to plan and administer vaccines in the most efficient ways possible.”

It suggests that anyone in a current priority group visit LMASDHD.org to learn more about how to get on the waiting list in their counties.

“Patience is needed, as it may be many weeks before you receive a call for an appointment,” LMAS said. “We also know that the virus, which causes COVID-19, is present in all of our communities.”

There had been a slowing trend until mid-January when Alger County started seeing a significant increase in confirmed COVID cases, the health department noted. On Jan. 1, Alger County had 190 confirmed cases; as of Wednesday, that number had risen to 270.

Also, the B.1.1.7 COVID variant, which has been identified in lower Michigan, is 50% more infectious than other strains, it said, making it “more important than ever” that people wear a clean cloth face covering that fully covers their mouth and nose, stay home when they don’t feel well, wash their hands and avoid gathering with people who are not in their immediate household.

Whitmer reacts to vaccine purchase plan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday released a statement after President Joe Biden announced his plan to purchase an additional 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to ensure that every American who wants a vaccine can receive one.

“From his first day in office, President Biden has made it clear that his administration will have a clear national strategy to defeat COVID-19 once and for all,” Whitmer said. “We know that the vaccine is the most effective way to get back to our normal day-to-day activities, which is why it is so good to see the Biden administration doing everything in (its) power to get these vaccines to states as quickly as possible.”

She said Michigan has a plan to vaccinate 50,000 Michiganders per day, and this additional supply will go a long way to help the state reach that goal.

“I know the administration will continue to take every necessary step to ramp up production of supplies for vaccines, testing and personal protective equipment.

“We can accomplish a lot when we have partners in the White House who will work with us, not against us, to get our arms around COVID-19 and build our economy back better than before.”

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.


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