ST PAUL, Minn — Gov. Tim Walz's office announced Monday that the state is planning a mass vaccination event for educators.
On Monday morning, Walz released information about a "mass vaccination pilot event" for educators, school staff and child care providers in the metro area. The state will administer 15,000 Moderna vaccines at Roy Wilkins Auditorium from Thursday, Jan. 28 through Monday, Feb. 1.
To balance that initiative, two of the other pilot COVID-19 vaccination sites in the metro will only serve adults ages 65 and up this week: Blaine and Brooklyn Center.
The Xcel Energy Center pilot site will not be available for walk-ups. School employees will need to work directly with their school districts, charter schools, tribal schools or nonpublic school organizations to schedule an appointment. Child care programs are selected randomly and will be notified if they're chosen.
Walz gave more details about the event at a news conference Monday, where he announced Minnesota's Due North Education Plan, a "sweeping agenda for the future of education in Minnesota." The plan is focused on addressing inequity in educational opportunities for students of color, Indigenous students, and students in greater Minnesota.
During that news conference Monday, Walz said the St. Paul vaccination pilot would not be a recurring weekly event. He added that educators who receive their first vaccine doses through it would "more than likely" be called back to the same site for their second doses. He said the state wants to make use of extra doses quickly whenever possible.
Also on Monday, Walz announced that the state is recalibrating its sign-up process for adults 65 and older who want to get appointments at the state's nine community vaccination sites. This week, they will be able to sign up at mn.gov/vaccine during a 24-hour window from Tuesday at 5 a.m. to Wednesday at 5 a.m., and then people will be selected randomly instead of on a first-come, first-served basis.
Walz also said Monday that the state is now urging providers to use 90% of their vaccine doses within three days of receiving them, and all doses within a week. If they can't meet those goals, their vaccine allocations could change.
All of the changes to the vaccine distribution process are attempts to "jump-start" the rollout, Walz said Monday.
Monday's announcements come after the first week back to in-person learning for many elementary schools across the state, including the largest district in Minnesota, Anoka-Hennepin School District.
The youngest students in the St. Paul School District will head back to class on Monday, Feb. 1, and the Minneapolis School Board voted last week to bring students back on Feb. 8.
Gov. Walz announced a few weeks ago that elementary schools could open for in-person learning on Jan. 18, but left the decision up to each district.
Some teachers across the state oppose the decision, saying that students should continue distance learning until more people can get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The St. Paul Teacher's Union has protested the decision to return, holding a car rally several weeks ago, decorating vehicles with bright signs and blasting horns.
"We know that this is a place that small children can carry the virus. Adults, clearly, that are coming into our buildings can carry it as well. We have extreme concern about the safety of our members," said Nick Faber with the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers.