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Majority of public school districts in Northeast Ohio are not tracking staff vaccine status

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 9:25 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The majority of the largest school districts in Northeast Ohio is not keeping track of teacher and staff vaccination status, according to data obtained by 19 Investigates.

We surveyed 20 Northeast Ohio districts and 14 responded.

Only three provided evidence of tracking vaccination status: Lakewood, Parma, and Medina.

“We need to make our children as safe as possible, and knowing if teachers are vaccinated or not is part of that plan,” said Rachel Defransico, who has a daughter in kindergarten in the Mayfield School District.

Mayfield was one of the many districts that estimated its staff vaccination rate but admitted it was not keeping track.

“This is private medical information,” said Laurie Uhlir, director of communications for the district.

But attorney Jared Klabenow, who was asked to provide an informal legal opinion to 19 News specifically for this story, disagrees.

“That information is not private,” he said. “As a matter of fact, that’s pivotal information for members of the community.”

Uhlir told 19 News via email that the district encouraged staff to get the shot and estimated the vaccine rate to be around 80 percent based on previous staff clinics.

Mayfield is certainly not alone in its position.

“We are not permitted to ask employees if they have been vaccinated,” said Mark Williamson, the director of marketing communications for Akron Public Schools. “We encourage all employees to have vaccinations against COVID-19.”

Klabenow admits that compiling individual health data and releasing it publicly, even to parents, poses a greater legal debate.

But in this specific scenario, he argues the failure to track overall numbers or identifying a simple percentage of vaccinated employees is irresponsible.

“For a school district to have information, or to have access to information and not provide it to the public is just wrong,” he told 19 News. “I would go as far as to say it’s somewhat irresponsible of school districts to not keep that information and make it available to the public.”

Below is a list of all schools that were surveyed and how they responded (listed alphabetically):

Akron Public Schools: Does not track vaccines, estimates 82% of teachers and 70% of the staff of 4,000 employees are vaccinated.

Berea City School District: Does not track vaccines, did not provide an estimate.

Canton City School District: Did not respond.

Cleveland Metropolitan School District: Tracking status is mixed. The district said 56.1% of all employees were vaccinated at clinics in February and March, and another 179 reported vaccines through insurance claims. However, the district does not require employees to submit insurance information.

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District: Did not respond.

Elyria City School District: Does not track vaccines. They reported “high” turnout for February clinic.

Euclid City Schools: Did not respond.

Lakewood City School District: Tracks vaccine data; 85% of 860 employees are vaccinated as of mid-September.

Lorain City Schools: Did not respond.

Mayfield City Schools: Does not track vaccines, estimates 80% of staff are vaccinated based on previous clinics.

Medina City Schools: Tracks vaccine data; 719 of 858 employees are vaccinated for a total of 84%.

Mentor Public Schools: Does not track vaccines; roughly 900 employees out of 1,300 (including outside personnel) signed up for clinics.

Parma City School District: Tracks vaccine data; 70% of 1,875 employees are vaccinated.

Plain Local Schools: Did not respond.

Shaker Heights Schools: Did not respond.

Solon City School District: Does not track vaccines, estimates 80% of staff is vaccinated.

Stow-Munroe Falls City Schools: Does not track vaccinates, reported 90% participation during February clinic.

Strongsville City School District: Does not track vaccines, estimates 80% of staff is vaccinated.

Willoughby-Eastlake City Schools: Does not track vaccines, did not provide an estimate.

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