The Suquamish Tribe will be vaccinating North Kitsap School District teachers and staff beginning March 10.
The tribe will use its drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site that it set up in January for its elders. The tribe hopes and plans to vaccinate 600 of NKSD’s 950 teachers and staff, making it the tribe’s most-ambitious vaccination goal to date.
“Suquamish has a tradition of hospitality, and that extends to our commitment to the health of all that live around us,” Suquamish Chairman Leonard Forsman said.
The tribe has vaccinated the majority of its citizens and their families, including government and enterprise employees. It expanded its effort to essential Kitsap County 9-1-1 dispatch staff and to other American Indians living in the county who are not Suquamish.
Forsman said the tribe is “assuring that our community’s schools can reopen safely,” by offering the vaccinations.
At the direction of President Biden, Gov. Jay Inslee opened up vaccination phase 1B tier 1 to include teachers, school staff and childcare providers in addition to first responders, healthcare workers, people 65 and older, people living and working in home care facilites, and people 50 and older living in multi- generational households.
“The governor’s announcement … was met with excitement, but left folks nervous because appointment availability is scarce,” NKSD Communications coordinator Jenn Markaryan said.
NKSD found out about the Suquamish Tribe’s plans in a Zoom meeting last week.
“The response was overwhelming. Hands raised up in gratitude, and a system-wide sense of relief to have a definitive pathway to vaccination,” Markaryan said.
Schools superintendent Laurynn Evans was grateful. “I want to express my deepest thanks to the Suquamish Tribe,” she said.
As of March 2 the Suquamish Tribe has administered over 3,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, nearly 2,000 first doses and a little over 1,200 second doses. That includes 75 percent of tribal government and 82 percent of Port Madison Enterprise employees.
The tribe is still following COVID protocols, wearing masks and social distancing, despite all the vaccinations.
“Taking aggressive, science-based action has helped keep the tribal community, and those in the surrounding community, safer,” a tribal news release says.
Forsman added, “Vaccinating the teachers and staff at the North Kitsap School District brings the area closer to the day when schools can fully reopen, which is an important first step in recovery for the whole community.”