Pine River-Backus School staff gathered, mostly excited, on Thursday, Feb. 4, for their first round of COVID-19 vaccines as the first 40 were available to those who wanted them.

The 40 doses of vaccine came from both the state pilot program and from those made available by a Cass County program. The district is expected to finish vaccinating those interested as soon as this week.

"We were able to get 40 staff members vaccinated," said Superintendent Jon Clark. "Their plan is to come back in (this) week and vaccinate the rest of that staff that were interested in the vaccine."

Paraprofessional Kim Hellen was one of 40 staff vaccinated Feb. 4 at Pine River-Backus School. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal
Paraprofessional Kim Hellen was one of 40 staff vaccinated Feb. 4 at Pine River-Backus School. Travis Grimler / Echo JournalTravis Grimler / Echo Journal

There were another 30 staff members who signed up to get vaccinated in the voluntary program. Some staff have decided not to get the vaccine and others are undecided.

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Though not directly tied to the vaccinations, the district is excited to bring more students back into the classrooms following state guidelines. By then, much of the staff will have already gotten their first dose of vaccine.

"This puts us in a really good position," Clark said. "We are planning on having our senior high to 12th grade students returning to in-person learning on Feb. 16, and we should have anywhere between 75% and 80% of our staff vaccinated before they return with their first dose. We're feeling like we're in a pretty good spot."

Those who got the first of two shots Feb. 4 were given a card to present in two weeks for the second shot. They were also required to stay in the gym for 15 minutes after being vaccinated to monitor for possible reactions.


"This puts us in a really good position. We are planning on having our senior high to 12th grade students returning to in-person learning on Feb. 16, and we should have anywhere between 75% and 80% of our staff vaccinated before they return with their first dose. We're feeling like we're in a pretty good spot."

— Superintendent Jon Clark.


Clark said there were no significant reactions reported following the first doses. Those who did have reactions reported reactions typical of other vaccines, such as a sore arm at injection point.

Second doses are reserved for those who get their first dose to guarantee the vaccination can be completed.

Pequot Lakes

Pequot Lakes students in seventh, eighth and ninth grades returned to their classrooms Monday, Feb. 8, for four-day weeks.

The district plans to have sophomores, juniors and seniors return to the classroom beginning Monday, Feb. 22, barring any drastic changes in COVID-19 case numbers or restrictions.

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.