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  • Salsabila Attaria, reporter

WPS Staff Vaccinated Against COVID-19 After Year of Pandemic

After a year of the pandemic, USD259 staff were offered the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Wichita Public Schools (WPS) set up the initial vaccinations at the AMAC building for distribution on Feb. 26, 27, and 28. Teachers will be receiving the second dose of the Moderna vaccine after spring break, abiding by the recommended 28 day period between doses.

With around 5,600 employees, the vaccination process for WPS employees was sure to be a challenge. Distributing vaccines while cases are still widespread relies on organization, sanitation, and good time management to ensure a smooth process. Thankfully, the school district was up to standard in all of these categories.

“I was in and out in less than 40 minutes. I did not have to wait terribly long and it was very clear what we needed to do,” Doc Rogers, history teacher, said. “The nurses and those administering vaccines did an amazing job.”

Because cases are still prevalent, another goal would have been to keep the number of people present at the AMAC building to a contained number. Staff members were advised to arrive no earlier than ten minutes before their appointment to eliminate the possibility of a large crowd.

“It was very organized and quick,” said Crystal Archibold, psychology teacher. “It ran like clockwork and I was out of there in less than 30 minutes."

As vaccinations roll out across the country a year after the pandemic reached the USA, feelings of relief and anticipation for the future are common. After months of masks and endless sanitation, the protection a vaccine provides is welcomed.

“It is a relief to finally get the vaccine,” Mary Chambers, science teacher, said. “I was fortunate because I did not have any symptoms from the vaccine aside from a really sore arm which felt better after a couple of days.”

However, vaccinations are only one step towards making the community safer for a pre-COVID lifestyle that includes onsite learning. Precautions will still need to be taken as the district evolves the learning model for the rest of this school year and enters the next.

“It is still crucial we maintain social distancing and safety procedures for a while,” Rogers said. “My hope is that we will realize as educators how crucial incorporating technology into our instruction is. This pandemic has exposed some glaring inequalities in our society and we must advocate for those inequalities to be fixed.”

These remaining concerns surrounding the still present number of cases in Sedgwick County have many worried about how schools might reopen in the future. Returning to school too early or without enough precautions could end in another uptick of cases in the Wichita community.

“I think it is extremely important for all teachers and essential members of the community to get vaccinated as soon as possible so we can slowly stop the spread of this deadly virus,” Chambers said. “This is the key to getting kids back into schools physically and allowing us to return to what was once normal. We must also continue to wear masks and social distance until the COVID-19 numbers are truly under control.”

Like anyone else, teachers are also looking forward to getting back into a normal routine in their personal lives. COVID-19 impacted much more than just life at school with the prolonged stays at home and limited social gatherings. The vaccine also represents a step closer to those old traditions as well.

“I look forward to not wearing masks and hanging out in public again,” Archibold said. “Swimming pools are one big example. I miss swimming!”

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