SAN RAFAEL (KPIX) — Marin County has set an ambitious goal for reopening its schools, making its entire educational community immune from COVID-19 by the middle of April. On Saturday, they staged an event to help accomplish that feat.
With balloons, music and lights hanging from the rafters, the Marin Civic Center looked more like a high school prom than a vaccination clinic. The venue was one of four so-called “super pods” that the county is setting up to inoculate all school workers by the end of spring break.READ MORE: Rising Sea Level Threatens Stinson Beach Neighborhoods
“By April 10, they’ll all have full immunity,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County health officer. “That will allow our schools to reopen more confidently, knowing that all the staff who wish to be vaccinated are fully vaccinated and immune by that point.”
Organizers of Saturday’s event — the county’s largest to date — expected to vaccinate 2,200 school workers, about a quarter of the county’s entire education workforce.
Stephanie Wagner, a 2nd grade teacher living in Novato, got her shot and was almost overcome with emotion.
“Next week will be a year since we’ve been out and it’s been extremely hard teaching that way, online, and I want to see my kids in person,” she said. “So, it means that I’m closer to letting that happen for me and my students.”READ MORE: Kaiser Employees Win $11.5 Million Class-Action, Race-Discrimination Lawsuit
With about 90 percent of Marin Schools reopened to younger students and special ed classes, the county’s school superintendent, Mary Jane Burke, said they now want to add middle and high school students to those getting at least part-time campus instruction.
“We have been working since school shut down in March to try to figure out strategies,” she said. “We have dedicated every single day to that effort and I think the result is what we see today.”
The year has been hard on everyone, especially health care workers who have had to see the tragedy up close every day.
Emergency room physician Dr. Jason Ruben said volunteering to vaccinate teachers and staff at the super pod didn’t feel like work at all.
“There’s a real light at the end of the tunnel,” Dr. Ruben said. “I know we still have a long way to go but this is the beginning to ending this really tragic pandemic.”MORE NEWS: Bay Area Teams Ready to Welcome Fans But Impact of Fake Vaccination Cards Is Unknown
Dr. Willis, the health officer, said dedicating vaccination events to specific groups of priority workers has proven to be highly efficient but he said he looks forward to the time when the supply of vaccine is increased to the point where the debate about who should get it will become unnecessary.