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'It could save my life' | GCS, WS/FCS to begin COVID-19 vaccinations for teachers next week

Guilford County Schools will start vaccinating school staff on Thursday. The goal is to vaccinate 10,000 teachers in 2 weeks.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Triad school districts are sharing more details about their plans to vaccinate teachers and school staff against the coronavirus as the state prepares to enter the next phase.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported administering 1.2 million first doses Friday.

The only people eligible to get vaccinated right now in North Carolina are healthcare workers and people 65 and older.

The state says just about 50 percent of people 75 and older have gotten the vaccine and over 40 percent of people 65 to 74 have gotten it.

The state will move to vaccinate teachers on February 24.

Friday, The Guilford County Department of Public Health said they continue to finalize their vaccination plan for school staff.

"That will give a sense of security not only to the teachers and the parents but also the students," said Guilford County Board of Commissioners Chair Skip Alston.

On Thursday,  Alston told WFMY News 2 those vaccinations will begin on February 25.

"I feel like it could possibly save my life," Guilford County Schools teacher Amy Schenck said.

Schenck's eighth-grade students will return to her classroom on March 10.

"I was really nervous and questioning a lot of things so I feel a lot better now," Schenck said.

Alston said the goal is to vaccinate 10,000 teachers in two weeks.

Guilford County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras said the district has been working closely with the county on the plan but stresses that two week window is a goal and maybe flexible.

"All who wish to be vaccinated will have the opportunity within a month. We're hopeful to get it done in two and a half weeks but certainly within a month," Contreras said.

Contreras said the plan may mean dedicating a full day to teacher vaccinations.

"We intend to go virtual next Friday," Contreras said, "So that we can get half our staff vaccinated within that one weekend."

The state's move to Phase 3 of vaccinations comes as many people 65 and up in Guilford County are trying to get their first doses of the vaccine.

Alston said the county's plan for vaccinating teachers will mean suspending 65 and up vaccinations for first doses until March 10.

Guilford County Spokesperson Worley Smith told WFMY News 2 those second dose vaccine appointments will still be held as scheduled.

According to Alston, Cone Health will handle first dose vaccine appointments for people 65 and up during the next two weeks.

"The good news is, we received more vaccine than we did the last three weeks," Cone Health Chief Pharmacy Officer Dr. DeAnne Brooks said.

Cone Health said NCDHHS has committed to providing the hospital system with more than 6,000 first doses for the week of Feb. 22.

Cone Health said that includes a baseline allocation of 5,380 doses, mainly for mass vaccination sites, each week for the next three weeks.

Forsyth County also laid out plans for teacher vaccinations to begin Wednesday.

Novant Health and Wake Forest Baptist Health will work alongside the Forsyth County Department of Public Health to give those vaccines.

Forsyth County and Wake Forest Baptist Health will offer vaccinations to teachers at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Education Building. Novant Health will offer those appointments at its Hanes Mall site.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Chief Communications Officer Brent Campbell said an interest survey from January showed at least 6,000 staff members want the vaccine. He thinks that number has grown since.

"The bottom line is we would like to get as many folks vaccinated as soon as possible," Campbell said, "Obviously we don't control the supply, neither do our partners here but they're working with us."

Campbell also said there is the possibility of clinics inside school buildings in the future.

The district is creating a priority list to organize vaccinations among staff members. Campbell said the first wave of communication about vaccines went out Friday.

The district will also offer virtual information sessions about vaccinations to teachers early next week.

Davidson County and Surry County Schools are among the districts that have released staff vaccination plans.

The third largest district in the Triad--Alamance Burlington School System--has not announced their plans.

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