HCPS rolls up its sleeves in vaccine clinic for educators

Press release from Henderson County Public Schools:

The first 33 of Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS) employees scheduled to receive COVID-19 vaccines in a clinic for educators rolled up their sleeves today. HCPS employees vaccinated today are those who have volunteered to work the weekend clinics, in order to directly support the public health of their peers in the school system.

Through this Saturday, the remaining HCPS employees volunteering to participate in the clinics will receive their first rounds of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. Ever committed to being safely present in schools for their students, 70% of HCPS employees who responded to a staff survey sent in January indicated their desire to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Through Pardee UNC Health Care and Blue Ridge Health’s efforts to intentionally designate portions of their vaccine allocations for educators, HCPS has been given the opportunity to schedule 1,300 vaccination appointments, which covers every employee who’s currently requested to receive a vaccine this week.

“Our teachers, bus drivers, custodians, child nutrition staff, and other personnel want to be in schools with their students, and they want to do so in the safest learning environments possible,” said Dr. John Bryant, HCPS Superintendent. “They’ve been eager to roll up their sleeves for HCPS, and we are so grateful to Pardee UNC Health Care and Blue Ridge Health for prioritizing the health and safety of these daily heroes.”

Evelyn Alarcon said she wants the vaccine to protect those in her own household, as well as the multiple families she serves as the district’s ESL Family Liaison. In her role, she supports non-native English speaking students and families in the schools, and in their own homes through targeted outreach.

“I’m doing home visits, registering students, bringing them school supplies,” Alarcon said. “So I’ve got to be protected for them, for my own family, and for my community.”

“It comes down to loving my neighbor as I’d love myself,” said Eric Gash, principal of Bruce Drysdale Elementary. “I would hate to find out that I’m an asymptomatic carrier of the disease. So I am protecting others by getting vaccinated.”

Since early January, HCPS has been working with local health care providers on developing a vaccination plan for district employees based on vaccine availability and pending eligibility. During the staff clinic, scheduling priority for appointments has been given to employees working directly in the schools.

“When we think of those who are in our classrooms, staffing our front offices, driving our school buses, and feeding our students, we know they are literally on the front lines of education in our community,” said Bryant.

All HCPS employees who expressed desire to be vaccinated are scheduled to have appointments for their first dose this weekend, and their subsequent second dose in three to four weeks.

HCPS staff receiving the vaccine this week will join their colleagues who received the vaccine earlier under Group 2 eligibility, which is ongoing in Henderson County.

“We recognize that the vaccination of educators will promote the overall health of Henderson County, while our healthcare partners continue to provide vaccines to eligible individuals in our community,” said Bryant.

Check the #SleevesUp4Schools hashtag on social media beginning Thursday, February 25, to see HCPS staff “sharing their whys” for getting the COVID-19 vaccine and thanking local healthcare partners for providing this opportunity to Henderson County Public Schools.

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