School employee vaccinations starting

Marlisa Harding

Local public schools in Calcasieu Parish will soon start making provisions for the optional COVID-19 vaccine for employees after last week’s decision by Gov. John Bel Edwards to deem educators as essential employees.

Lake Charles Charter Schools will begin providing the vaccine to teachers and staff on site today. Working with Boudreaux’s New Drug Store, Lake Charles College Prep staff will receive their first doses on campus this morning with Lake Charles Charter Academy and Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy staff being vaccinated on campus Thursday.

Henry Mancuso, interim superintendent, said the Lake Charles Charter Schools are thankful for Boudreaux’s partnership in the endeavor.

“In order for many parents to work, students need to return to in-person learning in a safe environment. Safety begins with a healthy school staff. Our teachers are truly essential workers in providing a safe learning environment.”

GeMar Braxton, Lake Charles College Prep registered school nurse, said more than 50 percent of teachers and staff indicated their interest in the vaccine based on a preliminary survey.

Staff who experience side effects from the vaccine will still be eligible for COVID-19-related leave if necessary, Mancuso added.

The Calcasieu Parish School Board is working with four local pharmacies to administer the vaccine to its staff: Boudreaux’s New Drug Store, Prime Occupational Medicine, Lake Charles Memorial Hospital and Ochsner Christus Health Center-Lake Area.

Skylar Fontenot, CPSB risk manager, said 58 percent of staff indicated they would be interested in receiving the vaccine. The vaccine is available at no cost but those interested must schedule an off-site appointment for access.

A paystub or employee badge will be required to access the vaccine and is available to full-time and part-time CPSB employees.

Fontenot said the district is planning to soon add two more sites for increased access for employees — DeQuincy Memorial Hospital and West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital’s rural clinic in Vinton.

“This is a community issue and we’re really thankful for these providers who want to step up and help our community,” she said.

In efforts to meet the time constraints of an educator’s schedule, Fontenot said the district sought partnerships with providers who have after-hours availability and even a Saturday clinic.

“We need our teachers in the classroom. Although we think it’s very important to be vaccinated, we also know it’s just as crucial to have our teachers present with their students.”

She added the availability of the vaccine does not seem to be issue at this time for those interested.

CPSB is also allowing post-vaccine leave for employees who have an adverse reaction to the shot.

“We’ve allowed our employees EPSL days. They can utilize two of those days so they could basically have paid time off if they do indeed have post vaccination symptoms,” Fontenot said.Vaccine

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