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Teachers ‘surprised, excited’ to learn they will be among first Utahns to be vaccinated

Posted at 9:56 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 23:56:42-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Governor Gary Herbert announced Thursday K-12 education staff will be among the first group of Utahns to be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. They could receive a vaccine late this month or in early Jan. 2021, the governor said during a news conference.

Read: Utah tops 1,000 COVID-19 deaths, 3,401 new cases reported

This is a pleasant surprise, the President of the Jordan Education Association and fifth-grade teacher, Kelly Giffen said.

“It is nice to know that we are recognized for the situations that we are put in and the need to keep our teachers healthy and safe,” she said.

Read: Panel endorses widespread use of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in US

A vaccine will provide educators with some much-needed relief as schools across Utah have been temporarily closed several times due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

“We hope to minimize the Ping-Pong effect that’s happening of going online or in class or a combination of both,” Gov. Herbert said.

Right now, Giffen is teaching hybrid style, doing some days in person and some online. This time has taught many teachers how adaptable they can be, she said, although she said she is ready to get back to ‘normal life’ whatever that may be.

“The ability to be able to focus more on my job without having to worry about my personal health and safety or taking something home to my family,” Giffen said.

Read: What doctors want you to know about the COVID-19 vaccine

High School social studies teacher Jacob Rollins said he will absolutely get the COVID-19 and is excited to be one of the first. He currently teaches in person full-time, as well as an extra online course.

“I come in contact with a lot of students, even with the precautions we’ve made,” he said.

While living with an immunocompromised relative, being able to know he is protected and not bringing home the virus will be amazing, he said.

“It has been a stressor in terms of when I should interact with them,” Rollins.

Despite all the changes, trail, and tribulations of this year, Giffen said she loves being a teacher.

“I love kids and I love learning and I love watching them when they get it. There is just something when you interact with kids. There is a beauty in how they learn and how they interact with you,” she said.

Rollins echoed his love for education and hopes through this time, some of cracks in education will be able to be addressed such as how to help disadvantage students, so that they are not left behind.

“There are still things that need to be done in a ‘normal’ setting that need to be done to help those students,” he said.

For the latest COVID-19 information from the Utah State Board of Education, click here.