EAST GREENBUSH, N.Y. (NEWS10) — This year, school districts across New York State were required to have a COVID-19 coordinator in order to reopen. While many districts used existing positions to fill that role, the East Greenbush Central School District hired someone from the outside to come in and focus specifically on their health and safety protocols.
Superintendent Jeffrey Simons said they posted the position at the start of the school year but were unable to find anyone in time. So for the last couple of months, the Superintendent, the Director of Human Resources and the Director of Pupil Personnel Services all worked together to tackle the responsibilities.
Superintendent Simons said he soon realized with the size of their district and the scope of the work, they needed to delegate and hire someone who could be dedicated to handling such an important role.
“We made a decision that we needed the capacity and we needed the expertise. We found someone with a nursing background, the right work ethic and personality to serve our community well,” said Simons.
Fortunately, their district is financially in a position where they could do this, and he said they certainly lucked out when they recently found Karen Vincent.
Vincent is a nurse at Albany Medical Center and has first hand experience with the virus. At the peak of the pandemic, she was assigned to the COVID floors and treated some of their sickest patients. She told NEWS10 ABC she continues to work per diem for the hospital.
During her time treating COVID patients, she said she learned a lot about the virus. She told NEWS10 the new role provides her the opportunity to share that education while also ensuring the safety of the students and staff.
“I think here I can take some of those questions that I had and share them because there’s a whole lot of anxiety with COVID and the mandates. Sometimes it just takes someone to say, hey let me educate you on this, let me share with you what I know, and we can help get through this together,” said Vincent.
She said she’s also able to effectively communicate with doctors as well as the state and county health departments on a daily basis. She keeps busy tracking important data and keeping tabs on any potential exposures. The East Greenbush Central School District has seven different schools with a total of nearly 4,000 students.
Simons said he hopes that having Vincent on their team will provide families within the district some peace of mind.
“Having somebody with a health background, who can better understand and help the district equipped for such a scenario, is really advantageous to East Greenbush,” said Simons.
“We don’t want anything to slip through the cracks in terms of communication or information. So I hope it does build confidence that our district is investing in the maintenance and education of health and safety during this really challenging time,” Simons added.