The Chelsea Public Schools (CPS) vaccination clinic has become the hot place to be for educators from across the region, as the district seeks to vaccinate its staff and others in preparation for re-starting school this month.
Supt. Almi Abeyta and a huge collaboration between many folks came together for the third and largest vaccine clinic for educators on Friday, March 26, at the Burke Complex. Offering the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine, the district opened up the clinic to the Five District Partnership (Chelsea, Revere, Malden, Winthrop and Everett), Lowell Public Schools, Excel Academy, Phoenix Charter, the Community Schools, For Kids Only and CAPIC.
Abeyta said they had likely inoculated about 330 of their 1,000 employees, but many of their employees had also been vaccinated in other locations like at mass vaccination sites or their primary care doctor.
“We’ve been doing so many and so many of our educators were vaccinated in other places too,” she said. “We didn’t want to lose the allocation we had so we opened it up to the Five District Partnership and other partners…I think we’re in a very good place to be ready to start school. I feel so fortunate to offer this to so many.”
The collaboration came with City Manager Tom Ambrosino, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Public Health Director Flor Amaya, Public Health Nurse Paula McHatton and the School Nurses as well.
In the most recent vaccine clinic held two weeks ago, they vaccinated 134 educators, and last Friday, after opening it up, they had 305 appointments.
Asst. Supt. Adam Deleidi has taken on a special role with the CPS in dealing with COVID-19 coordination, including testing and vaccinations. He is working closely with Amaya on many different issues, but said he was very happy to be able to offer the vaccine to educators in the very building where many teach.
“This is huge for us,” he said. “To be able to know we’re about to come back in and you have the vaccine there to protect you should help our teachers focus on education for the kids and not worrying about catching something and taking it home.”
Lowell teacher Dennis Rosa came all the way from Lowell to get the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
“I am just really excited to get it done and I really wanted to get the one-shot vaccine,” he said. “I feel great not having to worry about coming back and having another resurgence of it.”
He said one of the greatest concerns for teachers was asymptomatic students and co-workers that could get them sick without knowing it. That is something that the vaccine can help protect, but also a role of the robust testing initiative that Deleidi and Amaya are overseeing in conjunction with the return to school.
“The biggest thing that a testing program helps with is identifying asymptomatic positives,” he said. “They have it and don’t know it. The pool testing program we have is huge because it separates out the asymptomatic positives and that makes it so much safer.”
The Pool Testing program for students is voluntary upon return, but is “highly encouraged.” Already, he said educators have been submitting to the testing for three weeks. They’ve tested 141 times and never had a positive yet.
“I think our goal is to collectively work together to get our schools back up and running,” said Amaya. “On this clinic I worked closely with the superintendent, Adam Deleidi and the school nurses. I think everyone wants to return to day-to-day lives and having clinics like this is a way to do it safely.”