The vast majority of staff members at Rochester Public Schools have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while the percentage of eligible students who have received the vaccine is closer to half.

Interim Superintendent Kent Pekel reviewed the districtwide data Tuesday during the Rochester School Board meeting. A more specific breakdown of vaccination rates at the various buildings, programs and departments is expected to be released Thursday.

"The reason we felt this data was so important is that making decisions based upon not the perceived or assumed vaccine status of our students and our staff but the actual, or as close to actual data as we could get, is really critical in having a smart strategy going forward," Pekel said. "We have, for a long time, had data on Olmsted County as a whole, but we know that Rochester is different than the county, and Rochester Public Schools is different than Rochester."

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According to the data, 90% of staff members have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 88% of staff members have received two doses. Those percentages, however, were not uniform throughout the district. There were some programs and schools that had a vaccination rate as low as 70% and others that had a rate as high as 95%.

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The overall vaccination rate among staff members is higher than for Olmsted County overall. For that larger county population, 84.4% have received one dose, and 80.8% have received two doses.

Meanwhile, the number of eligible students who have received the vaccine is closer to half. According to Pekel's report, 58% of eligible students have received one dose and 53% have received two doses. As was the case for the staff, the percentage of vaccinated students was not uniform. Some programs and schools had a rate as low as 39% and others had a rate as high as 75%.

The school district has held numerous vaccine clinics in the schools to help make sure students have access to the vaccine. Currently, only students 12 and older are eligible to be vaccinated.

The release of the vaccination data comes shortly after a noticeable increase in the number of COVID-19 cases throughout the district. During the week of Sept. 13-19, there were 92 new cases, more than twice the number from the week before. Throughout the first three weeks of school, anywhere from 80% to 83% of the cases have been among unvaccinated individuals.