District prepares for phase two vaccinations

Kris Long, Sports Editor

USD 383 is preparing to vaccinate all of its staff — including teachers, paras, foodservice and bus drivers — during phase two of the vaccine rollout. 

According to a survey conducted by the district of it’s staff, 80% said they would be interested in getting a vaccine.

“I did get my vaccination,” school nurse Robin Mall said. “I would encourage [others] to. I personally didn’t experience any side effects…  your arm gets a little bit sore, but it’s not a big deal. I personally am not worried about it.”

The timeline for vaccines is still unclear and ultimately depends on how many doses Riley County Health Department gets. School employees with medical licenses, including school nurses, speech and language pathologists, physical therapists and occupational therapists, already received their immunizations in phase one. 

“[If they have] some sort of medical license, we were able to get them through, we got about 30 through that way,” Jones said. “So things are starting to move forward.”

The district is hoping to get a group of about 100 teachers vaccinated this Thursday. Although vaccinations in groups of this size will make a small dent in all of USD 383’s employees, it is a step towards immunity. 

“I don’t know [when teachers can expect to get vaccinated] yet,” Jones said. “It all depends on the health department and the shipments that they received from the state. We’re in constant communication with the health department. So, we’re just waiting right now.”

Mask and quarantine policy with vaccines are yet to be made official. Staff are expected to continue to wear their masks after their full vaccination for the time being, but whether they will be quarantined if exposed is yet to be determined. 

“We’re still working on [quarantine policy] with the health department,” Jones said. “We don’t know all of the details of that yet.”

One thing that is certain is students — at least those who don’t work in healthcare — should not expect a vaccine anytime soon. 

“The vaccines that are out are really not tested for students,” Jones said. “One is 18 and below and one is 16 and below… so that’ll just have to wait.”

News of district vaccinations have raised the hopes of many for a return to normalcy, but mass inoculations have yet to take place or be planned for school staff. The availability of vaccines continues to hinge on production and transportation of vaccines.

“It’s just taking a little while,” Jones said.  “Everyone is eager to get it to hopefully help get the community back to normal. But we’re all ready to go. We’re just waiting for the health department to say it’s time.”