COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina school districts have been working hard to coming up with a COVID-19 vaccine plan for their teachers and staff.
The decision comes after Governor Henry McMaster and Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said earlier this month it was the district’s responsibility to be ready when teachers get the green light to receive the vaccine.
Richland School Districts One and Two Superintendents said they are ready for when vaccinations begin.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Richland Two Superintendent Dr. Baron Davis said. “I’m confident and my response was, we are ready.”
Even though Richland One and Two are neighboring districts, the Superintendents outlined unique plans when it comes to how involved the vaccine provider will be and the role school nurses will play. However, both noted that the plans are still fluid and could change in the time leading up to when vaccinations begin.
Dr. Davis said Richland Two plans to have school nurses vaccinating the teachers and staff.
“We have registered nurses; we are fully capable of administering this vaccine and we want to do it,” Richland Two Lead nurse Dawn MacAdams said. “We want to get our teachers vaccinated, and help out so people can be bac and school face to face and feel comfortable.”
MacAdams said they will be using one of the high schools for a drive-through vaccination site. She said their hope is to complete all the first dose vaccinations within a matter of two days, with the district having about 50 nurses and athletic directors who are trained in administering vaccines and who can be helping at the different checkpoints.
She said right now their biggest roadblock has been securing a provider who will provide the vaccine, and let the district handle everything else.
“Some of it has been supplied, and some of it has been own internal processes that they want people to come to them instead of people coming to us and letting nurses assist,” MacAdams said.
Richland One Superintendent Craig Witherspoon said Prisma Health will be administering the vaccine to their teachers. Dr. Witherspoon said the district is asking staff to register with Prisma’s MyChart vaccination system. Once the vaccine is open to teachers and staff, they will be able to go into the portal and make an appointment.
Dr. Witherspoon said their district is not setting up a separate vaccination site because Prisma Health preferred working through their existing system.
“They have a system that is already in place, and we understand that,” Witherspoon said. “It would be good however, if we could accelerate teachers getting in and that’s something we are talking to them about and waiting to see.”
MacAdams said they opted to run their own site to speed the process along for teachers.
“It’s going to be easier for teachers if we can get two days set aside and they’re not having to try to go through the vaccine system to find a location, date, and time that’s convenient,” MacAdams said.
MacAdams said they are in talks with a few providers and are hoping to finalize everything by the end of next week. She added that Richland Two is holding a vaccine training for all the school nurses on Friday, and all nurses will be trained on administering both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Witherspoon said Richland One is also ready to adapt if needed.
“We’re able to pivot if need be, working with our school nurses and sites in the district, but at this point working through Prisma Health’s system and process that is already in place,” Witherspoon said.
Both superintendents said they want to get the vaccine to their teachers as soon as possible.
“More than anything it would remove a source of anxiety and stress for the people who are in charge of providing premier educational experiences for our students at the ground level,” Davis said.
Dr. Davis said the district has about 3500 employees, and from a survey, about 77% of their teachers and staff have said they want the vaccine.
Dr. Witherspoon said their district has about 4200 employees, which includes teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and all other staff. He said about 80% of their staff indicated they want to receive the vaccine.