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Huntington school system addresses use of gym for vaccinations

HUNTINGTON COUNTY, Ind. (WPTA21) - The Huntington County Community Schools Corporation says it has taken steps to ensure that the use of a campus gym as a COVID-19 vaccination site will not put any students in harm's way.

Officials have posted a detailed explanation on how and why the Crestview Middle School gym will be employed as a vaccination staging area beginning Monday.

That is when qualified members of the public will be able to receive a coronavirus vaccine, which will be administered by the county health department.

HCCSC said it is "aware of concerns expressed by members of the community" regarding the use of the school to distribute the vaccines.

Officials said that Crestview’s main gymnasium was chosen because of conflicts that made the Huntington North High School fieldhouse unavailable.

“The state has required us to identify sites that would function according to their guidelines,” Huntington County Health Department Interim Public Health Officer Matt Pflieger said in a statement. “We have worked through a lot of different sites in Huntington County.

"In the end, it was determined the gym at Crestview would fit the need. It has an external entrance, ADA accommodations, very open space, clear barriers and doors as well as other appropriate site needs like parking, restrooms, etc. No person associated with the site will be mixing with or near students.”

The use of the school as a vaccination site does not change the qualifications for those receiving the shot. Students will not be vaccinated when the site is put to use on Monday.

Indiana residents 70 and older, healthcare workers and first responders are eligible to register for the vaccine. 

The complete letter to the community from HCCSC follows.


HCCSC and Crestview Middle School are aware of concerns expressed by members of thecommunity regarding Crestview’s selection to serve as a COVID-19 vaccination site.

HCCSC, Crestview and the Huntington County Health Department entered into a mass prophylaxis site agreement on Dec. 3, 2018, granting the Huntington County Health Department the ability to use Crestview’s facilities for activities relating to disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery according to Indiana Code 10-14-3-7. According to the agreement, a prophylaxis clinic is a site where prophylaxis is provided to a large number of citizens within a short time period in response to an emergency that involves an actual or imminent infectious disease threat.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb declared a state of emergency for Indiana on March 6, 2020, for the COVID-19 pandemic (Executive Order 20-02). The state of emergency declaration is still in effect, as Holcomb has extended the declaration 10 times in total, with the current expiration set for Jan. 31 unless further extended (Executive Order 20-52).

The Huntington County Health Department has identified Crestview’s main gymnasium as a suitable facility for administering COVID-19 vaccinations, which are scheduled to begin at Crestview on Tuesday, Jan. 26. The Huntington County Health Department is required to host its vaccination sites at a location that is handicap accessible and has heat, water, restroom facilities and internet access. Crestview’s main gymnasium was selected for use upon notice of the Huntington North High School fieldhouse not being available for use due to significant facility scheduling conflicts.

“The state has required us to identify sites that would function according to their guidelines,” said Huntington County Health Department Interim Public Health Officer Matt Pflieger in a statement. “We have worked through a lot of different sites in Huntington County. In the end, it was determined the gym at Crestview would fit the need. It has an external entrance, ADA accommodations, very open space, clear barriers and doors as well as other appropriate site needs like parking, restrooms, etc. No person associated with the site will be mixing with or near students.”

Pflieger noted the Huntington County Health Department plans to vaccinate over 500 individuals next week, with that number rising in the following weeks.

The vaccination site will only be used for the groups eligible to receive the vaccine and no students will be given the vaccine. To view eligible groups, please reference the link at the bottom of the page.

Individuals registered for the vaccine via the ourshot.in.gov website will enter directly into the Crestview main gymnasium using external doors and will be screened upon arrival at the vaccination site, asked a series of questions, required to wear a mask and have no direct contact with students. Individuals will not be permitted to enter the Crestview main gymnasium if they have any COVID-19 symptoms or fail to pass the administered temperature check, or if they have received an active diagnosis of COVID-19.

For the safety and security of Crestview and its students and staff, all individuals involved with the vaccination site will be confined to the Crestview main gymnasium. Additionally, no Crestview students or staff will have access to the main gymnasium while it is being used for vaccinations. Huntington County Disaster Team Inc. will be at Crestview to help direct traffic into the parking lot for individuals to receive the vaccine and help direct individuals to the external main gymnasium entrance to keep individuals away from the main entrance of the school.

Law enforcement will be present to ensure the safety and security of the vaccination site and Crestview staff and students.

A designated restroom will be available for the vaccination site and will not be available for use by Crestview students and staff.

The Crestview main gymnasium operates on a different air handler that is not connected to the rest of the air handlers for Crestview. The Huntington County Health Department will be sanitizing each vaccination station after every use. The Crestview main gymnasium will only be used as a vaccination site and will not be used as a COVID-19 testing site.

HCCSC’s primary focus is the safety and security of its students and staff. As such, the Crestview main gymnasium will not be used by the school at any time when it is being used for vaccinations. Crestview will use its auxiliary gymnasium, wrestling room and fitness room to accommodate for physical education classes during the school day.

The vaccination site will be used for several weeks. The schedule for vaccinations is currently fluid and subject to change, but is primarily based on a schedule of Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 1 to 7 p.m. The vaccination schedule is coordinated by the Indiana State Department of Health and the Huntington County Health Department.

Any questions regarding the Crestview vaccination site can be directed to the Huntington County Health Department via phone at (260) 358-4831.

Jonathan Shelley

Jonathan Shelley is the news director at WPTA TV, which he joined in 2016 following nine years in a similar role in New Orleans and previous news management positions in Oklahoma City and Las Vegas.

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