Greenwich works on plans to get COVID vaccine to all teachers in town

GREENWICH — The town of Greenwich is working to procure 1,800 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to distribute to teachers and in-person school staff as the state prepares to expand its vaccination program next week, officials said Friday.

The doses will be available to staff at Greenwich Public School as well as private school personnel and staff at local child-care facilities, according to district and town officials.

Vaccine distribution to educators will likely begin on Wednesday, March 3, at the Brunswick School Field House, which is already functioning as a vaccination facility for Yale New Haven Health System.

“We are so fortunate to have been moved to the head of the line of essential workers,” said Carol Sutton, head of the Greenwich Education Association (GEA), the union representing Greenwich Public School teachers. “There’s no way to emphasize enough how grateful we are for that.”

Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday his plans to change the state’s vaccine roll-out plan. Whereas people with comorbidities and underlying conditions thought they would be the next group eligible for the vaccine, which has already been made available to people age 65 and up, health care workers and first responders, Lamont surprised the state by announcing an age-based plan.

As of March 1, people 55 and up are eligible to sign up to receive the coronavirus vaccine. Teachers and other school personnel were also made eligible starting Monday.

The new wave of vaccinations come as federal supplies are expected to increase. The federal government sends them to the states, and Connecticut sends them to its municipalities. More vaccines are expected to be sent this coming week.

As of Friday afternoon, teachers and staff had not yet received final details for the vaccination plan. But Superintendent of schools Toni Jones did send short updates to employees of the Greenwich Public Schools, notifying them of the tentative plans beginning mid-week.

One note, sent early Friday, said the clinic would likely be able to administer 500 to 750 vaccines per day. A subsequent note from Jones, sent Friday evening, said the district was still awaiting the number of people the district can schedule per day.

According to Sutton, there are about 1,300 Greenwich Public School employees. Sasha Houlihan, the district’s director of communications, said all staff working in-school with children qualify for the vaccine as of Monday. Some Central Office staff, on the other hand, must meet the state’s age requirement to qualify, Houlihan said.

“Given the amount of vaccines that have been ordered and the announcement of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines arriving in CT next week, we remain hopeful for a swift and well-expedited process for all of GPS,” Jones wrote Friday.

Greenwich Hospital, which is part of the Yale New Haven Health network, is partnering with the town and its public and private schools to organize the vaccine clinics. Dana Marnane, the hospital’s vice president of public relations, said on Friday that discussions were ongoing about the clinics.

“We are working with the town to support Greenwich educators, but the plans are still in process,” Marnane said

The town is responsible for getting the vaccine doses also to the teachers at the private schools in town, which include Brunswick, Greenwich Academy, Greenwich Country Day, Greenwich Catholic and Sacred Heart Greenwich as well as others.

Town Director of Health Caroline Baisley said on Friday that the work was underway.

“We have submitted a plan to obtain supplemental vaccine to vaccinate all public and private school teachers and their support staff along with vaccine for child-care professionals in Greenwich,” Baisley said.

justin.papp@scni.com; @justinjpapp1; 203-842-2586