Georgia teachers and other school employees won't be eligible to get COVID-19 vaccines until next month, but Hall County School District school nurses are encouraging their fellow employees via video to roll up their sleeves when the time rolls around.
School board members got a look at the video featuring some facts and figures about the vaccine presented by Andrea Williamson-English, the Health Services Coordinator for the Hall County School District. In addition, the video features testimony from school nurses who received the vaccine.
"Five of our school nurses have now been vaccinated," said Director of Student Services for Hall County Schools Tamara Etterling. "Some of them share that when we initially sent out the survey asking 'Would you be interested in taking the vaccine?' they actually said at the time 'no.' Now that they've been informed...they've changed their minds."
Etterling said she has been told by local Department of Public Health officials that educators likely will not be eligible to receive the vaccine until February.
District Superintendent Will Schofield emphasized that teachers and other school employees will not be mandated to take the vaccine.
"Let me be extremely clear, we are not pushing anyone to take a vaccine," Schofield told board members. "We just want people to make an educated decision for themselves. It is an incredibly personal decision."
The YouTube video is available at this link.
COVID absences remain high as blended learning continues
Schofield said COVID absences among teachers and other staff members in the district remained high on Monday. He said some 270 adults were unable to work because of illness, much of it related to COVID.
"People might want to take that number and divide it by 37 schools...but here's challenge. Today was a shining example as we had 29 bus drivers unable to work today. I'm not sure how we would have gotten students to school with 29 bus drivers [out]," Schofield said.
Board Chairman Craig Herrington said virtual learning is not as easy as some community members might think, and he commended teachers and the district's technology staff for keeping everyone online.
"It is incredibly difficult to have to switch from in-person to blended and back to in-person. It takes a great deal of work all across the board," Herrington said.
As it stands now, Hall County will continue the blended learning model through Friday, Jan. 15. Monday is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, which is a holiday for the district.