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Local school staffs being vaccinated Saturday for COVID-19

On Saturday, staff members from Lanett City Schools, the Chambers County School District, Springwood School and Chambers Academy will get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

With phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution starting on Monday, teachers and school staff are getting the opportunity to receive their vaccines.

“I am very excited for our teachers and staff to have this opportunity,” LCS Superintendent Jennifer Boyd said. “I personally see this as an additional layer of protection for our staff, especially as we seek to reach the point where our students can go to the traditional learning environment five days a week. I’ve encouraged our staff, those who feel comfortable, to get the vaccine. This is something that we can not mandate, but it is encouraged.”

The distribution of vaccines to teachers and staff depends on the hospital system around a school district. As of Monday, EAMC had given 3,500 first sets of doses and 1,300 second doses.

“We are so grateful to be given the opportunity,” CCSD Superintendent Casey Chambley said. “East Alabama has banked a lot of their vaccines, and they felt that it was very important to go ahead and push out to the school systems.”

While the vaccine is encouraged, it is a choice for the staff to make themselves.

“It will be voluntary since our constituency is diverse in how they view the virus and vaccine approaches, ” Springwood Head of School, Lowrie McCown said.

Both the CCSD and LCS sent out a survey to see how many of their employees would sign up for a vaccine. As of Thursday, 52 percent of the staff employed by LCS had optioned into receiving the vaccine, while 200 of the 440 CCSD employees had opted in.

Each appointment takes roughly 30 minutes, as the staff member will first fill out paperwork, receive the shot then have to wait for an evaluation to make sure there aren’t any allergic reactions.

As of writing, the entirety of LCS had not returned to three-day on-campus learning, while the CCSD had started its second-semester of on-campus learning.

“It’s huge. We can start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Chambley said. “We’re not out of this by any means, however, we’re in such a better place than we were with the vaccine and treatment. They’re starting to figure out the virus a little more. You see the numbers are going up and the hospitalizations are going up, but our death rates are not going up, which is a huge plus. For us as a school system, getting the vaccine is huge. We are having a very difficult time filling substitute spots and teacher spots when our teachers are quarantined or out sick. It’s big for us, hoping that we get a majority of our teachers vaccinated and the vaccine starts to work and keeps us out of that critical area of not being able to put teachers in classrooms.”