elmore county schools

Elmore County Public Schools Superintendent Richard Dennis said the district has been busy preparing for today, the day that teachers are able to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

At a special called board meeting on Thursday, Dennis shared that the district is in the process of gathering and sharing information related to COVID vaccinations.  

“We’re looking at ways to accommodate teachers and support staff who may need to go get the shot during school hours,” Dennis said. “We don’t want them to miss that opportunity is that’s what they choose to do.”

Starting Feb. 8, the ADPH has extended eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations to include people 65 or older, and additional groups of frontline workers, including those in the education sector.

The district recently sent out an anonymous survey to all employee to see about how many were interested in getting the vaccine when it becomes available to them, said human resources director Susanne Goodin. The survey only required employees to name the school they work at.

Out of roughly 1,400 employees, 798 have responded to the survey. The survey asked employees if they would get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to them, if they were undecided, if they did not plan to get the vaccine, if they’d already gotten the vaccine or if they were waiting to get more information about side effects.

Of the 798 respondents, 46.2% said they wanted to get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available, 29.1% were undecided and 16.5% said they weren’t interested in getting the vaccine.

“We did it so principals can have a clear picture of how many employees at their school want to get vaccinated so they can plan for it,” Goodin said. “From what we’ve heard, you don’t always have the option of picking when you go to get the vaccine. You call, leave your name and number and they call you back with a time and day. If teachers can get it done outside of school hours, that’s great, but we realize that might not be an option for a lot of people.”

Goodin said principals are responsible for making plans to ensure classes are covered while teachers are away.

“They have to come up with a plan that best fits their school,” Goodin said. “Just as an example, an elementary teacher’s planning period might be about 30 minutes but a high school teacher on a block schedule might have an hour-long planning period. Each school will have different needs.”

The district’s lead nurse Suzanne Ragan and the superintendent’s administrative assistant Jean Czerpak have provided flyers to employees that include a list of providers currently administering COVID vaccines.

Each day that new information becomes available, it is sent out the employees via email.

“There seems to be new or changing information almost every day, but we really try to stay on top of keeping everyone informed,” Goodin said.