The Vincennes Community School Corp. is partnering with the Knox County Health Department to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics coinciding with school registration.
Superintendent Greg Parsley said after being approached by parents who were struggling to find time to take their children to the health department to be vaccinated, offering the opportunity at registration just made sense.
“We had heard from some parents, particularly of students in band, that there are so many activities happening that it’s difficult for them to visit the health department during regular hours,” Parsley said. “We’re just trying to provide more access.”
Too, Parsley noted, students under the age of 18 must have parental consent to receive the COVID vaccine.
“Getting students vaccinated is strongly encouraged, so we thought a great time to do this would be registration,” he said.
Betty Lankford, the county’s COVID-19 nurse and coordinator for the health department’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic, was on hand at Monday morning’s VCSC board of trustees.
According Lankford, though “quite a few” eligible students have been vaccinated this summer, she wouldn’t call it a substantial number — something that is a lingering concern for health officials as students and teachers prepare to go back into the classroom.
And while students are encouraged to be vaccinated, it is not required to return to school, Parsley said.
Those who aren’t vaccinated, however, will be forced to quarantine if exposed to a positive case of COVID-19.
Parsley says offering vaccinations during registration is one more way to encourage a safer environment at the start of the school year.
“If this gets a few more people vaccinated, that’s a good thing,” he said.
“We will be there to make ourselves available to anyone at registration who wishes to be vaccinated. Students, parents, siblings — it makes no difference to us,” she said.
Though masks will not be required inside the school building, they are, per federal law, still required on all school buses.
Social distancing will remain in place this year, although it will be reduced to three feet as opposed to the previous six.
Health department officials will be on-hand to offer vaccinations during registration at Clark Middle School this Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and again from 2-5 p.m. They will be at the Lincoln High School registration day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday.
VCSC’s board of trustees on Monday also approved a measure to reduce the out-of-pocket cost of student Chromebook rental fees.
“When you have so much of your curriculum technology based, having access — in this instance through the Chromebook — is important,” Parsley said of the reduced fee.
The school corporation will tap into two COVID-relief funds — ESSER and GEER — to help pay for the cost of new Chromebooks, passing the savings on to students and parents.
in 2020 and 2021, Congress passed three stimulus bills, including funding for the Elementary and Secondary School (ESSER) Fund.
And, in Indiana, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund to support local schools and educational agencies.
Parsley said using those ESSER and GEER funds to purchase the devices will bring the rental cost from $75, down to $45 for K-5 students, and from $95 down to $60 for middle school students.
In other news, VCSC’s board of trustees approved a $347,879 bid from American Roofing and Metal to replace the roof at the Washington Learning Academy, 2134 Washington Ave.
Parsley says while seven roofing companies expressed interest, only two submitted bids for the project, resulting in the selection of the Louisville, Kentucky-based company.
The building, which needs decking, roofing and some sheet metal replacement, is also need of tuck pointing work, but Parsley says VCSC is looking to local mason workers for that job.
“We have a mason that does a lot of our work, so using outside contractors that we have no relationship with just didn’t make sense,” he said.
Parsley anticipates roof repairs to begin by early fall.