coronavirus vaccine

South Bay School District Resumes In-Person Classes After Vaccine Controversy

Los Gatos Union superintendent defends actions after 65 teachers get shots ahead of schedule

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A South Bay school board last week came out in support of its superintendent over the controversial vaccinations of a group of schoolteachers. Some have accused the district of trying to skip the vaccination line.

Paul Johnson, superintendent for Los Gatos Union School District, which resumed in-person classes Monday, defended his actions after backlash over the teachers being vaccinated before the county gave the green light.

“Our district has never asked to receive vaccinations from anyone,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that on Jan. 20, Good Samaritan Hospital reached out to him and said they could vaccinate his teachers. They just had to sign up under the health care workers tab online because they were moving tiers.

“At the time, the district assumed the best intentions of Good Sam helping staff to navigate the software interface with a changed tier,” he said.

The hospital said they had leftover doses and contacted the district so they wouldn’t go to waste.

Sixty-five teachers were vaccinated. The next day, the hospital admitted a mistake and canceled remaining appointments.

But also in that email, the superintendent told staff, “they mentioned that our kindness last year was not forgotten and how much they appreciated it.”

He was referring to the district’s $60,000 in fundraising to feed hospital staff.

Johnson apologized for the characterization.

“This was done out of the sincerity of our hearts, and not to give in order to get,” he said.

The county continues to investigate and says it’s withholding vaccines from the hospital until it submits a new rollout plan.

The school board on Thursday and most of the public comment were in support of the superintendent.

“My conclusion is that Paul’s actions were both ethical and legal,” said Peter Noymer, a member of the board of trustees.

One written comment, read aloud by staff, questioned the decision.

“Please do or say something to ethically justify your actions,” the statement read. “Legalities aside, this decision does appear unethical, and surely not a lesson of being a global citizen.”

The county said that the teachers who received the first dose of the vaccine will, in fact, receive a second dose so as to not waste the vaccines that were already administered.

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