Vaccine distribution makes way to UCS staff

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published February 22, 2021


SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA — As Utica Community Schools continues to move toward more in-person instruction, district officials are organizing partnerships to increase the availability of vaccines to the Utica Community Schools staff.

Through partnerships with the Sterling Heights Fire Department and Henry Ford Medical Center, district staff have had another opportunity to register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The district is also working with local pharmacies — including Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Meijer and Kroger — to increase availability of vaccines for staff and has contacted the Macomb County Health Department to host in-district clinics.

Utica Community Schools is still offering two learning models: a hybrid option that provides students a combination of in-person and remote instruction, and the fully online UCS Virtual Academy.

Interim Superintendent Robert Monroe said in a prepared statement that the district is aiming to return students to in-person learning.

“A full return to in-person instruction remains a goal for Utica Community Schools, and the health and safety of our staff and students continues to be a priority in our move forward. We are working aggressively through partnerships to increase the access of vaccines to interested staff as we prepare to increase the amount of time students are in our classrooms,” he said.

The district is scheduled to increase the amount of in-person learning over the next month. Students in special education self-contained classrooms and secondary English learner students are scheduled to have increased in-person learning the week of March 1. The remaining K-12 students are scheduled for an increase of in-person learning the week of March 15.

District staff became eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations Jan. 11.

Cheryl Boes, a K-6 media specialist at Dresden and Messmore elementary schools, was one of the teachers who was able to get a vaccination Feb. 4 in partnership with the Sterling Heights Fire Department.

Boes said it was important to her to get the vaccine to help stop the spread of the virus and to stay healthy to teach her students. She said she is scheduled to get the second dose Feb. 25.

She said she is grateful for being able to get the vaccine with how limited its availability is right now.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to have access to the vaccine and hope that all people who want the vaccine will have access soon,” said Boes.

“I was able to sign up and then was notified when appointments were available,” she said.

Boes was vaccinated at Walgreens pharmacy and received the Pfizer vaccine.

She said the vaccine better her ability to teach her students.

“This has been a year full of firsts for me as a teacher and as a parent of children who attend UCS schools. The vaccine is one step in helping us return to teaching and attending school in person. I am thankful that I’ve been able to connect with my students online and I look forward to the day when all students can come back to our library, which is filled with books, technology and resources for learning,” she said.