School district plans to organize centralized vaccine clinic for staff

Planning for the effort began well before Thursday, when Gov. Brian Kemp announced that Georgia’s educators and school staff would be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning March 8.

Some school nurses will be part of the vaccination team, said Valerie Whitehead, executive director of strategy and innovation for Glynn County Schools.

“These nurses will take part in online training and complete their checkoff to administer the vaccines during rotations in the DPH vaccination clinic next week,” Whitehead said. “The school nursing staff will supplement staffing from DPH to assist us in accommodating interested employees in a safe and timely manner.”

Over the last few weeks, school leaders surveyed staff to gauge their interest in receiving the vaccine. More than half of the employees responded, Whitehead said, 61 percent of whom were teachers.

Just over 59 percent said they wish to receive the inoculation. Around 5 percent said they’d already received the vaccine, and 14 percent were undecided.

The survey included an opportunity for the undecided group to list questions or concerns that could be addressed.

“After sharing the feedback with (Coastal Health District Director) Dr. Lawton Davis, he created a Q&A video for me to share with staff,” Whitehead said. “This video was completed just recently and will go out via our email distribution on Monday. Once we open up scheduling, we will be able to have a better picture of the number of staff members who will ultimately decide to participate in this stage of immunizations.”

During the announcement that school staff will soon be prioritized for the vaccine, Kemp emphasized the importance of getting all of Georgia’s students back into classrooms for in-person learning as soon as possible.

Glynn County Schools reopened for face-to-face instruction at the start of this school but gave students the option to attend class virtually from home. Some school districts in the state have not returned to in-person instruction since the pandemic began in March 2020.

“It is sad and is certainly a tragedy that will have repercussions that those schools and students will be dealing with for a long time to come,” said Glynn County Schools Superintendent Scott Spence. “On the other hand, many systems, including ours, have worked to find ways that have allowed us to safely operate schools during this pandemic.”

Spence said he wholeheartedly believes local teachers and staff should be near the top of the priority groups who can receive the vaccine.

“I am sure there are others who should also be included on that list, but I find it hard to believe that there are other groups more deserving than the faculty and staff of the Glynn County School System,” he said.