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Talawanda School District employees get vaccinated

<p>The Talawanda School District closed for the rest of this week due to a surge in COVID-19 cases and staff shortages.</p>

The Talawanda School District closed for the rest of this week due to a surge in COVID-19 cases and staff shortages.

Hundreds of Talawanda School District (TSD) employees received their first dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 4, in hopes of moving towards a more “normal'' school year. 

Holli Morrish, TSD’s communication director, spoke to The Miami Student before TSD employees received their first vaccine dose last week.

Morrish said the district is just one of many in Butler County starting the vaccination process, and she’s grateful for the safety precaution. 

Since the vaccine came out, the state of Ohio has put together a schedule prioritizing the COVID-19 vaccine. Adding k-12 school employees to the second round of the first wave of vaccines, according to the Ohio COVID-19  government website.

“Hundreds of our employees are getting their vaccine this week,” Morrish said. “At first, Gov. Mike DeWine did not have school employees in the category. We had to wait for enough vaccines. But he then added us to the 1B category, so we are grateful.” 

Ohio has divided the vaccination process into phases. Phase 1A prioritizes healthcare workers, EMS responders and residents in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Phase 1B includes Ohioans age 65 and up and those with pre-existing conditions along with K-12 educators who intend to teach in-person. 

Talawanda first went remote last March and stayed online until the end of the school year in May. After much advising over the summer, the district decided to continue with remote learning at the start of the 2020-21 school year. 

With the goal of returning to face-to-face learning, the district began offering an in-person learning option last October. 

Morrish said 80% of students were in person, and 20% were remote — most of the latter being students with compromising health issues. 

But last November, the schools saw an uptick in cases, leading the district to revisit the idea of remote learning. 

“We ran out of subs and cafeteria workers as two cafeterias all got COVID,” Morrish said. “So we decided to move the high school and middle school to fully online, but leave our three elementary schools open, with still a remote option for that 20%.”

As COVID-19 cases and quarantine reports lowered in Butler County, TSD began the second half of the school year fully in-person on Jan. 19, except for the students with compromised health conditions still participating in a remote program. 

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Morrish said she hopes the district being able to receive the vaccine will help move toward a sense of normalcy. 

With a majority of TSD employees receiving the vaccine last week, it seems things may work out in Morrish’s favor. 

But due to COVID recovery times, some employees were not eligible to receive their first dose.  

“Most of our employees will get the vaccine,” Morrish said. “We provided a number to the Butler Educational System, but some were not able as they’re still in their 90-day recovery period from having COVID-19.”

With the majority of the district's students back in the classroom, Morrish said the district is glad to see everything running smoothly so far, with no surge in cases. 

She said the district is following basic health procedures given by the state, and she’s hopeful for the future. 

“My hope is this vaccine and natural herd immunity will lead us to some normalcy, and we can have all of our students back,” Morrish said. “I don't think life will ever be the same, but maybe it will be better. We may have good things come, maybe advanced technology. But my hope is that we can get back to some kind of normal life.”