COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - While Georgia has given the green light for teachers and school staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, South Carolina teachers still aren’t eligible.
However, school districts across the Midlands say they are ready for when that day comes.
Certain districts like Kershaw County said their hospital system will be handling the vaccinations, whereas other districts, like Lexington School District Two, are working to host their own vaccinations once they become available to teachers.
“We definitely don’t want to be the ones that are dropping the ball for our staff when that opportunity comes because we know it means so much to them,” Lexington Two Superintendent Dr. Nicolas Wade said.
Wade said they plan to hold a two-day vaccination event at one of their schools. The event would take place on a Thursday and Friday, and the entire district would move to e-learning for those days.
“We do feel confident that we can reach all of our staff in a very timely and efficient manner,” Wade said.
Wade said that as of now the district is in talks with Lexington Medical Center, but who they ultimately partner with will depend on supply.
He says they have the storage capabilities in place at the site, and school nurses are able to assist with the vaccinations if needed. However, Wade said right now their biggest difficulty has been finding a supplier for not just the vaccine, but also the materials, like syringes, needed to administer the vaccine.
“We have the location; we’ve really worked out the logistics of everything,” Wade said. “We’ll just wait and see whatever final training pieces become of it, as well as hoping we can find a whole bunch of syringes.”
Wade said he wishes Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman had given more direction when it came to the district’s vaccine plans, but other districts have enjoyed the flexibility.
“I really appreciate Superintendent Spearman giving us the flexibility because like I’ve said many times in the past, each community is unique,” Kershaw County Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins said. “We all have different levels of resource and ability.”
Robbins said with having a larger, more rural county, they were originally looking at having 4 regional locations across the county for teachers to get the vaccine.
“To me, that’s what made sense, but because of the nature of this vaccine that would have been a struggle to do,” Robbins said, adding that the storage requirements for the vaccine didn’t fit that plan.
Kershaw County said they’ve partnered with Kershaw Health and plan to hold a three-day vaccination event at the Health Resource Center on a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday after school hours to allow the district to continue with their normal 5 days a week in-person learning schedule.
“The hospital is willing to handle everything, but we also have nurses who are willing to vaccinate,” Kershaw County District Nurse Elizabeth Starling said.
Robbins says about 80% of their staff responded to a survey saying they wanted the vaccine. It’s similar to the 75% of Lexington Two teachers and staff that Wade said indicated would like the vaccine as well.
Lexington One and Lexington Richland Five officials both said they are still finalizing the specifics of their plans when it comes to the provider they will be using and how involved school nurses will be.