SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Arkansas Department of Health says teachers are considered essential workers and they can expect COVID-19 vaccinations sometime next month if everything stays on schedule.
State Epidemiologist, Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the ADH said the first phase is broken into three categories, 1A, which we are in, followed by 1B and 1C.
Category 1B will include people over 75 and essential workers such as day care workers, teachers, and those in the food industry, among others. Dr. Dillaha said she expects the first groups to be complete within the next few weeks, then they will begin to vaccinate those in the 1B category.
“It is likely that we will not have enough vaccines to vaccinate everyone in 1B at first so we will need to prioritize within 1B,” said Dr. Dillaha.
Dillaha says the state continues to receive shipments of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and hopes the allocations increase as the pharmaceutical companies expand production. There is also the potential for more vaccines to be approved for emergency use authorization by the FDA.
The ADH has noted that COVID-19 transmissions in schools are relatively low because it’s a controlled environment but there are concerns about a surge in numbers following the winter break and holiday gatherings.
Dillaha said expanding the number of people vaccinated will help turn things around.
Rick with Springdale Public Schools said at this time there are no talks about mandating vaccines, but it will be highly encouraged. Meanwhile, he is asking for parents, students, and staff to be patient and to not loosen up on taking those safety measures.
Schaeffer said he hopes families practiced social responsibility during the winter break. He said he is proud of how the district handled the first semester, switching to remote learning only for one week after Thanksgiving break, and that was because of the number of teachers in quarantine and not having enough subs to fill in.
Since then, more substitute teachers have been hired and the district continued to sanitize all of its buildings during the time off. He encourages its school community to continue to be vigilant in following the health guidelines into this semester.
“That’s been the theme of the year so far, if you have a fever if you feel bad whether it is COVID-19 or not, stay home. You can get your lessons done remotely and come back to school when you’re feeling good again,” said Schaeffer.
He continued saying there’s also lots of hope that once the COVID-19 vaccines become available to teachers, faculty and staff that will help keep numbers down.
“Once the vaccine becomes available to our staff, principals and all of our administrators… that’s going to make it more comforting for those who are working in the schools to feel like things are almost back to normal,” said Schaeffer.