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Guilford County Schools students go remote while teachers get vaccinated

No live teaching will take place Friday while many GCS staff members receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The third largest school district in the state took a remote learning day as Guilford County worked to vaccinate nearly all of its school staff in the next two weeks.

Guilford County Schools students logged in to complete assignments but did not have live lessons Friday.

"I'm glad to keep her home today," Sarah Flores said.

Her daughter Ada usually attends second grade in person five days a week with masking and social distancing.

She hopes the reason for Friday's remote learning will lead to more days in the classroom.

"I think the faster we can all be vaccinated, the quicker the return to normal will be," Flores said.

Many GCS staff members were scheduled to get their coronavirus vaccines from one of the county's three clinics. Teachers were still expected to report to the classroom for work before and after their appointment time.

"(I'm) seeing on social media people who have been there already," Kelly Dyson said, "Everybody's been ready. A lot of people asking, did you get your email yet? and things like that."

Kelly Dyson is a third-grade teacher at Pierce Elementary School. She's been back in the classroom since November but she's still waiting for the district to notify her about scheduling an appointment.

The district is prioritizing teachers by age and risk to students. 

The first priority are staff in the Exceptional Children's program. They work with special needs students.

The next priority are workers age 51 to 64.

"My understanding is this group of 36-50 is next and then 18 to 35," Dyson said.

Dyson hopes to schedule her vaccine appointment this weekend. Her daughter is a type one diabetic and her family has been socially distancing throughout the pandemic.

She plans to wait and get her shot through the county instead of scheduling at a different clinic.

"I'm confident that when it says it's my time there will be a slot and a spot for me," Dyson said.

Teachers like Dyson, parents like Flores and students like her daughter Ada see a chance for things to return to normal.

"I want school to be like it used to be," Ada Flores said, "maybe soon we can take off our masks."

The district said 3,000 GCS staff members were scheduled to be vaccinated Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

"I’m so thankful for the cooperation with the resolution that the board passed, supporting vaccines for educators, for Governor Cooper stepping up the plate and DHHS, and now finally County Health for setting this up," Todd Warren said.

Warren is the President of the Guilford County Association of Educators. 

Warren joined Guilford County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras and district Board of Education Vice Chair Winston McGregor in getting the vaccine Thursday.

"We want our staff to know that we are willing to have the vaccination as well because it’s just that important. And we know some people have some angst, some concern, and we wanted them to see that we’re willing to do this to keep everybody safe," Dr. Contreras said.

Guilford County hopes to vaccinate 80 percent of all school staff, teachers and childcare workers through next week.

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