Chesterfield teachers concerned over vaccine delays and in-person learning

Chesterfield teachers concerned over vaccine delays and in-person learning

CHESTERFIELD Co., Va. (WWBT) - Hundreds of employees with Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) received their COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, but not as many as originally planned.

On Tuesday, CCPS announced there was a delay in vaccinating most employees due to supply issues with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Despite that delay, the plan still remains to bring elementary students back into the classroom on Feb. 1, which leaves some teachers concerned.

“The in-person instruction is the best especially for those young kids, but they (teachers) need to be vaccinated first,” said Rachel Striblen, an English teacher.

Last week, the Chesterfield Health District requested 8,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. It was estimated CCPS would receive around 4,000 doses of that order this week, but late Monday night school leaders discovered less than 1,000 were heading their way.

“Even if the vaccine had been delivered on time and we had gotten those 8,000 shots, still we would have just barely had those shots in the arms of the elementary teachers who are going back into the building on Feb. 1,” said McLin Choate, a Band Director.

That is the date when all elementary school students are allowed to return to the classroom five days a week. There is still a fully virtual option as well.

In an email to CCPS families and staff Tuesday, Superintendent Merv Daugherty said the decision was made before the school system received word of vaccines coming to Chesterfield.

However, many teachers feel school leadership should reverse that decision.

“I think a lot of people were feeling pretty anxious and disappointed that those vaccines weren’t going to be available for us and we’re still moving forward with putting students and staff back in the building,” Striblen said.

“Why not wait the four to six weeks; it’s going to take work through the process, get the vaccines in,” Choate added. “Yeah, there will be some hiccups with it, but get our staff vaccinated.”

The Chesterfield Health District allotted 750 for the school division to use with staff.

“Cohort No. 1 school-based staff, Juvenile Detention Home staff and Transportation’s Area 5 staff members will receive the first dose of their vaccination later this week,” the email stated.

Before Tuesday’s email, Striblen was scheduled to receive her COVID-19 vaccine on either Jan. 28 or 29. Now that plan is on hold.

“I have no idea when I’ll be able to get it,” she said.

It is a situation many are dealing with, but Striblen feels delaying in-person learning a little longer is better to be on the safe side.

“I know it’s out of Chesterfield County’s control how many vaccines they get, but I think it really kind of shows how up in the air everything is and you just don’t know what is going to happen,” she added. “I just hope they listen to their community and their teachers and take the appropriate actions.”

CCPS said the hope is to have more doses arrive next week for vaccination efforts, but add employees may receive short notice before getting the shot.

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