HALEYVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — Several Haleyville City Schools staff members were among the first educators in Alabama to receive the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine this week.
District leaders have been in touch with Lakeland Community Hospital since December.
“They reached out and just asked if we were to have a surplus in this first dose, would we be interested? So we set that up in December. We got that call last week that they thought they would have some extra,” said Dr. Holly Sutherland, Superintendent of Haleyville City Schools.
Sutherland said close to half of the district’s employees expressed a willingness to get the vaccine. Faculty members will not be forced to get the shot.
While no side effects have been reported by teachers so far, the district is prepared.
“I asked our administrative team to look at those that signed up and divide them up so not all 2nd grade teachers went on the same day, not all coaches went on the same day, not all of our custodians went on the same day, bus drivers etc.,” said Sutherland.
Neina Middleton, who works as a business teacher at the Center of Technology, received the vaccine Tuesday.
“We see about 100 students a day come in and out of our classroom and we would for sure not want to expose our kids to anything that we could have an additional layer of protection,” said Middleton.
Middleton said the process was very organized and has not had any issues since taking the first dose.
“It is painless. I have a little soreness in the injection site today, but I think that is with any shot you get,” said Middleton.
School officials hope the vaccine will eventually allow students to safely return to the classroom 5 days a week.
Education leaders from across Alabama have feared learning gaps during the pandemic.
“Hardly anything replaces face to face learning, so the more of that that we can do, I think the better off that we will be,” said Haleyville High School Principal Davey Reed.
Reed also received the vaccine Tuesday. He said he felt he needed to set an example for other employees.
“It was so important, for me being the leader of the school, to step out there and take the vaccination and at our school we were at fifty percent,” said Reed.
Sutherland and her staff thanked the hospital for the opportunity. Many larger school districts are still waiting for the chance to offer the vaccine.
“We feel like it is one of the perks of being in small community that our hospital and healthcare providers value our teachers and value the fact that they are on the front lines of many different contacts every day with students and parents and community members,” said Sutherland.
A second group of teachers will get the vaccine later this week.