Ritenour Staff Receive COVID-19 Vaccines during Mass Clinic Sponsored by Urban League of St. Louis
March 17, 2021 was a historic day in the Ritenour School District with district staff participating in a mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Ritenour High School. Exactly one year earlier in March 2020, the district shut its doors at the end of the school day to all staff and students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thanks to the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, which partnered with the Missouri National Guard, more than 350 Ritenour and Special School District staff members received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine was only available to Ritenour and Special School District staff.
The district had surveyed staff prior to the March vaccination clinic and learned that many staff members already had received at least one dose of other COVID-19 vaccines or had appointments to receive them prior to the March 17 clinic.
“We were thrilled that the Urban League and Missouri National Guard made it possible for our staff to receive the vaccine on our campus,” said Superintendent Dr. Chris Kilbride. “We had several administrators and school nurses working on this since vaccines started arriving in our region, so to make it happen was just phenomenal for our staff. It is mind boggling to think about where we were a year ago and now to be able to see the light at the end of a very long tunnel.”
“Relieved” was a common word echoed by many staff members once they received the vaccine at the clinic.
Melissa Wortz, an eighth grade science teacher at Hoech Middle School, said she was thrilled she could get the vaccine in the district. “I'm relieved and so grateful that the district and NEA (National Education Association) made this happen for us.”
The vaccine was available to all Ritenour and SSD staff who work in the district, including teachers, administrators and support staff from all departments.
“It really gives you peace of mind, more than anything else, knowing you will have protection,” Mark Grady, Ritenour’s custodial supervisor, said after his shot.
Mark Goldman, a Ritenour Middle School teacher who has been teaching virtually this year, said he is looking forward to being back in the building with his students in April for state testing.
“I’m just so relieved to get it and so thankful,” said Goldman. “I can’t wait to see my students in person who I’ve been teaching all year.”
June Burkhardt, a librarian at Marvin Elementary, said getting the vaccine gives her hope for brighter days ahead.
“I feel better knowing I can see my parents and being with family without worrying,” Burkhardt said. “I can’t wait to get somewhat back to normal.”