Protecting Patriots

Stevenson opens a vaccination hub, making the vaccine accessible to all educators in the Lake County Area.

On Friday February 5, Stevenson High School started to administer its first round of COVID-19 vaccines to any Lake County educators who wished to receive it. Stevenson’s “vaccination hub” will be one of two in the Lake County area — the other being in Round Lake — that will provide and administer vaccines while Illinois is in Phase 1B. 

“They chose those two locations because we both have what’s called a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) certification,” Superintendent Eric Twadell said. “The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) requires that if you are going to be a vaccination site you have to have a CLIA certification which involves having all the right medical staff on site, the right medical equipment, a vaccination hub is not a lemonade stand, you can’t go put it anywhere and claim yourself to be a vaccination hub.”

IDPH’s goal is to vaccinate all Lake County educators who qualify for the Phase 1B guidelines, with a hope to have all vaccinations administered by April 1. This 1B group includes anyone employed by a Lake County school, as well as any educator who lives in Lake County but is employed in other counties; for Stevenson this would also include Sodexo workers. The vaccination hub will be housed inside of Stevenson and will be easily accessible for all educators in the area.

“We will be using the Sports Center – it will have a dedicated entrance and exit off the alley – after school and on weekends,” Twadell said. “It won’t be [open] every day of the week, it will be open and available depending upon the number of vaccines [the] Lake County Health Department gets every week. For example, this week we are only going to have about 800 vaccines, so we really only need to be open on Friday evening and Saturday during the day.” 

Many teachers at Stevenson, including science teacher Jason Carlson, are excited to receive the vaccination. Stevenson teachers feel that receiving the vaccination will add yet another layer of protection for those teaching in the building.

“Saying it’s a ‘great thing’ is really underselling it,” Carlson said. “I think the fact that Stevenson is doing it, I think it is an incredible opportunity not only for the faculty, staff, and adults in the building, but it’s [also] an incredible opportunity for the community because this once again gives Stevenson a chance to be a leader.”

The vaccinations, and the protection they will provide, are a positive that many Stevenson students are looking forward to. Eleana Liu ’23, who has not yet participated in the hybrid model due to the risks that it presents, is now considering trying it out. 

“I think that if the teachers get the vaccine I’m going to feel a lot more comfortable with the idea of returning to school,” Liu said. “With the hybrid model, and even when we hopefully return to fully in-person school next year, it’s more important that we can feel safe around the teachers because we’re inevitably going to be interacting with them more than we are with fellow students.”

Some teachers who work with Carlson have been teaching from home this semester due to extenuating circumstances and medical conditions that make in-person teaching a dangerous option. Carlson and Twadell have talked to many of their still-remote coworkers and many have reported being excited about getting the vaccine so they can come back and teach. 

“They’re excited about it and hopefully [the administration of vaccines] will take place over the course of the next eight weeks and those folks will be back in the building in April or May,” Twadell said.

With high hopes of completing all local faculty vaccinations by the end of the school year, Stevenson’s vaccination center is meant to be a temporary addition, with plans to close it as soon as all Lake County educators have moved through the two sites. Still, the school wants to retain the capability to open it up again later if needed. 

“If Lake County is able to acquire enough vaccines for students during the summer prior to a return for the fall, we will absolutely bring it back up again and do whatever we can to vaccinate Lake County students as well,” Twadell said.