CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Dr. Janice Jackson will soon step down as head of the nation’s third largest school district – amid a pandemic and a citywide vaccination effort.
So what’s the plan when it comes to vaccinating students, and will those efforts continue once the final bell rings for the summer?
READ MORE: Manhunt Continues Well Over A Year Later For David Garcia-Espinal, School Custodian Accused Of Putting Cameras In School Bathrooms, As Victims Seek Justice In Court
As CSB 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reported Tuesday, Jackson said plans to address that are currently in the works.
Jackson said right now, CPS is looking into how to make COVID-19 vaccines accessible to students 16 and older. But that age group could soon be growing, as the district awaits approval by the Food and Drug Administration for 12- to 15-year-olds to get the Pfizer shot.
Jackson will be leaving her post at the end of June. But student vaccinations are still top of mind for her – at work and at home.
“We were having this conversation as a family, this weekend, and you know I asked, you know, both my kids do you want to get vaccinated?” Jackson said. “You know, both of them said yes.”
Last week, we visited a community vaccination clinic at ASPIRA Business and Finance High School. But what about a Chicago Public Schools-led clinic?
“In this situation, we can no longer wait,” said Mike Smith, a teacher at Englewood STEM High School.
On Tuesday, Chicago Teachers Union teachers and officers said the district has been “dragging their feet” on student vaccination plans.
“We need to work with the City of Chicago to create more vaccination centers at CPS schools this is where families come every day to drop off their kids,” Smith said.
READ MORE: ‘We Have Sold Tickets Already’: Chicago Auto Show Is First Major Convention To Return Since Start Of COVID Pandemic
So Hickey asked Jackson, who told her the district is on track to help facilitate student vaccinations by the end of this school year.
“CPS will be playing a big role and will be leveraging all of the resources that we have – whether that’s facilities or our nurses, et cetera, to help get more people vaccinated and raise awareness around the importance of that,” Jackson said.
For now, Pfizer is only approved for students who are 16 and older. But that approval could be expanding to 12-, 13-, 14-, and 15-year-olds as soon as next week.
Jackson said CPS is preparing for that as well.
As for employee vaccinations, as of April 30, about 22,000 of 48,000 total employees were confirmed to have received a first dose – fewer than 50 percent. But Jackson says those data are incomplete.
Hickey: “When you officially exit, will you be happy with the progress made?”
Jackson: “Up and overall, I’m happy with the progress that we’ve made as a district. Of course, I want us to move forward and do even greater things. But it is a personal choice, but I tell everybody I’m like a walking PSA – that this is important if we want to get back to life before the pandemic.”
According to CPS data, about 12,000 of the approximately 22,000 teachers in the district have had confirmed first doses.
Hickey asked Jackson on Tuesday what a school-sponsored vaccination effort would look like. Jackson said she is planning to discuss more specifics this week with city and state public health departments – whether it would involve vaccination sites inside schools or organized trips to city sites.
MORE NEWS: Remembering Longtime CBS 2 Anchor, Reporter Bob Wallace
Jackson said those details should be announced in the next few weeks.