All EG School District teachers and staff are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, March 11, at Swift Community Center, officials announced Friday. After months of waiting, the opportunity came faster than expected. President Joe Biden last week urged states to prioritize vaccinating teachers and on Thursday Gov. Dan McKee said Rhode Island would.
“It’s just incredibly exciting,” said Supt. Alexis Meyer Sunday. “It’s just hopeful, exciting news.”
Meyer said town officials who have been heading up the local vaccine clinic had been thinking for a while they could handle school employees. “When the opportunity presented itself, they took advantage of it and I couldn’t be more grateful,” she said. The clinic is open to every EGSD employee, including regular substitutes. “I don’t even know any other district that’s doing it this way,” she said.
Town Manager Andy Nota said the clinic came about after “lots of discussions” the last week with the governor’s office and the Department of Health. “We made it very clear that we would make ourselves available should DOH be able to distribute vaccine to the school districts.” Nota said the school staff would be offered the Pfizer vaccine, which requires a second dose three weeks after the first dose, so a second clinic is being planned for April 1.
Meyer said the clinic would be staffed locally and that two of the district’s nurses got trained Sunday.
“I think there’s just a collective sense of relief at this point,” said EGHS Principal Ken Hopkins. “We’re nearing the one-year mark of the onset of the pandemic, something we couldn’t have anticipated.” He said getting the vaccine would lower anxiety levels about both contracting COVID-19 personally and exposing someone else to the virus.
Eldredge Principal Dan Seger said there was eager anticipation of getting the vaccine. “I have signed up for the EG faculty/staff vaccinations on March 11 and April 1,” he said. “It’s a relief to have it scheduled!”
Ken Hopkins said he too believed there was widespread eagerness to get the vaccine. When CVS opened up vaccine appointments to teachers last week, many staff members tried to sign up, he said. “It was akin to trying to buy Radiohead tickets through Ticketmaster,” he said wryly. For the clinic Thursday, all the staff has to do is complete a signup form sent out by Supt. Meyer.
As for what this means in terms of the school year and a possible return to more in-person learning, Meyer said, “It does open the door.”
She said everyone was waiting for CDC guidance on vaccines and what it means once you’ve had your two shots.
“We can expect to see some guidance coming fairly soon.”