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New lesson plan revealed for Missouri teachers & COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 6:30 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - There’s a new lesson plan for teachers to get vaccinated even if their states haven’t declared them eligible yet.

But it can be confusing.

“There’s so much information going on about COVID in general and about the vaccines,” said Zac Rantz, the Chief Communications Officer with Nixa Public Schools. “Even we’re having trouble making sure we understand everything.”

In the last couple of weeks it’s gotten even more confusing for teachers who were hoping to be moved up the list of Missouri’s state vaccination plans because of their high-exposure to groups on a daily basis.

First Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced that teachers (K-12) and other Tier 3 qualifiers (childcare, communication infrastructure, energy/dam/food/agriculture sector, government, information technology) can start getting their COVID-19 vaccinations beginning March 15.

Then yesterday President Joe Biden announced he wanted teachers nationwide to be on a faster track.

“We want every educator, school staff member and childcare worker to receive at least one shot by the end of the month of March,” he said.

Biden’s plan to vaccinate teachers is being done under the federal pharmacy program and doesn’t have anything to do with the state’s guidelines.

What that means is that teachers who haven’t already qualified under the previous Tiers of the state guidelines still have to wait until March 15 to be eligible at places that receive state allotments like Cox and Mercy.

But they can hopefully get access to a shot earlier through the federal pharmacy program.

“We’ve learned that those pharmacies that are participating in that national federal distribution will be able to start giving vaccines to teachers and school staff starting next week,” Rantz said.

Dr. David Kessler, Biden’s COVID-19 Response Chief Science Officer, explained what educators should be doing.

“Beginning the week of March 8th go to the CDC website,” he said. “You will see the participating pharmacies that you can go to and then go to their web page. If you’re a teacher, if you’re a childcare worker, if you’re a staff worker, if you’re a bus driver in a school, you are eligible.”

“That’s a very limited amount of pharmacies in our area,” Rantz pointed out. “That would be Hy-Vee, CVS, Walmart and Health-Mart.”

Those are the initial federal pharmacy partners currently listed on the CDC web site for Missouri.

In Arkansas the list is just Walmart and CPESN USA.

Lisa Cox, the Communications Coordinator for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said that Biden’s new push doesn’t effect the state’s approach.

The state’s plan is not changing,” she said in an e-mail message. “Although we have been seeing welcome increases in vaccine supply, there are still many eligible people seeking vaccination and we continue to encourage patience among Missourians. We encourage school systems to work with local health care partners in their areas to make plans for vaccinating their workforce when supply is available, or individuals can also seek out vaccination by means of one of the delivery channels in their area beginning March 15.

But remember that even by mid-March those in the previously eligible tiers will still be getting shots.

“Just because that March 15th day comes around does not mean there’s going to be a vaccine available for someone to sign up for,” Rantz said.

So just like the rest of us, the advice to teachers is to sign-up everywhere you can. That means on both the federal pharmacy list and with your local health care providers.

Patience is important but getting all our educators vaccinated can’t come soon enough.

“You just really see that relief on their face when they get that shot,” Rantz said. “So many people have cried. It’s just a release of emotion to see this weight lifted off them.”

So could it be that schools will be back to normal by next fall?

“After talking with the experts we’re fully expecting to have some of the same safety precautions in place next fall,” Rantz answered. “Just because the vaccine is not going to be readily available to younger students or even high school students until a month-or-so into school. We’re never going to pull back too soon because we see what happens when you do it too quickly. You have a surge. We have done a good job of keeping our numbers low. Our positive rate between our students and our staff has been one percent or less all school year so we don’t want to regress.”

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