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Utah teachers and school districts react to announcement of vaccine rollout for educators early next week

Posted at 9:29 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 23:35:24-05

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout is heading to Utah teachers next, and according to the state, it will start as soon as Monday.

READ: Utah teachers could be offered COVID-19 vaccine as soon as next week

"It is an exciting time in our state to see educators prioritized in this fashion. By allowing teachers to be a priority for the COVID-19 vaccine, we are giving them the necessary extra layer of protection to feel safe inside of their classrooms," superintendent of public instruction Dr. Sydnee Dickson said in a statement Friday.

Newly inaugurated Gov. Spencer Cox also echoed that sentiment in his news conference Friday.

"It is unacceptable to have vaccines sitting on the shelf. And moving forward, I assure you there will be no vaccines sitting on a shelf," he said.

READ: Utah's governor orders COVID-19 vaccine timelines to speed up

Educators are ready after being told the doses may be pushed back.

“We’re so very pleased that the county and state health officials are working so hard to provide this to our employees,” said Ben Horsley, the spokesperson for the Granite School District.

That was a sentiment echoed by Jordan district School teacher Jacob Rollins.

“The way that Governor Cox has implemented this so fast into him becoming governor, this is what we wanted to see state by state and nationally," he said.

The Granite School District, along with all others in the Salt Lake County, has received guidance on how to hand out vaccinations from the county health department.

“The health department has given us the guidance to simply provide those on descending order of age,” Horsley said. “And all the school districts are utilizing the same distribution process to make it as equitable as possible.”

He adds that it's been a tough year for educators.

“There are so many things we do in schools to make them safe,” Horsley said. “But at the end of the day, a vaccination is kind of what everyone has been holding and pinning their hopes on.”

The process will not be instant, however -- there is only a limited number of vaccines that can be released at first.

“We do not have unlimited amounts of the vaccine being allocated to Granite District or any district," he said.

For teachers like Rollins, however, this is a good sign at the end of the tunnel to return back to classrooms in the future, somewhere he says students will learn best.

“The personal connection you make with students in the classroom,” he said, “it can’t be done online to the extent that it is in classrooms to have that personal connection… talking face to face.”

But he says this year has been tough, so that isn’t always possible in the same way.

“I speak for myself, but I know I think other teachers felt it too that we felt a little pushed to the background,” he said regarding the potential of getting vaccinations sooner than other groups.

Rollins also said that this is a personal milestone in getting the vaccine.

“I’ve lived with a family member who is immune-compromised, and so that is always something that is on my mind," he said. "And to have that not on my mind and for now as it rolls out more and more for students to have it on their minds, it's going to be a great relief.”

So with hope on the horizon for a quick and speedy rollout to teachers, this is something many have been looking forward to -- and finally, after Friday's promises from Cox, they can be excited about it as well.