CHICAGO (CBS)– Chicago Public Schools, with the Chicago Department of Public Health, announced plans to begin vaccinating staff in mid-February.

Starting in mid-February, eligible staff can get their shots at four CPS buildings across the city. Employees also will be able to seek vaccines through their healthcare provider. The announcement comes just days before 10,000 employees are expected back in schools to prepare for in-person classes for students in kindergarten through 8th grade.

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“CPS expects to begin receiving vaccines directly in mid-February, at which point it will begin a multi-month effort to offer vaccinations to eligible staff,” officials stated in a written release

The district said it has partnered with several healthcare organizations to provide vaccines over the next two weeks for approximately 1,500 staff who work in healthcare roles, and already are eligible for inoculations under Phase 1A of the city’s vaccine plan. CPS said there are enough doses available for all eligible Phase 1A staff who haven’t yet received a vaccine on their own.

According to state health officials, vaccination eligibility expands to school staff and other employees in frontline essential roles beginning on January 25 in phase 1B.

CPS officials said the amount of vaccines available for staff is “contingent upon federal vaccine allocations.” CPS staff will receive their vaccines at school-based sites.

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CPS also released a vaccination prioritization strategy that will ensure staff members with high exposure are vaccinated first. Within the three vaccination groups are subgroups of different roles based on “level of exposure” and “ability to reliably maintain mitigation measures.”

Group 1, the “High Exposure” group, includes staff whose job responsibilities require them to work in close physical proximity with others, and who often cannot practice social distancing on the job. Its subgroups include:

  • Subgroup 1.1 — school-based nutrition staff, school-based security staff, school leaders, care room attendants, and clerks;
  • Subgroup 1.2 — bus aides, cluster program teachers and paraprofessionals, pre-k teachers and paraprofessionals, special education classroom assistants, and technology coordinators.

Group 2, the “Medium Exposure” group includes employees whose roles might require regular interaction with other staff and students, where social distancing might not be possible at all times. Its subgroups include:

  • Subgroup 2.1 — facilities staff, and other elementary school teachers and paraprofessionals
  • Subgroup 2.2 — other high school teachers and paraprofessionals

Group 3, the “Low Exposure” group, includes staff whose jobs can largely be performed remotely. Its subgroups include:

  • Subgroup 3.1 — Central and network office staff

CPS said if the federal government can provide vaccines on its intended schedule, all district employees could be vaccinated in the coming months.

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