District teachers protecting classrooms by getting COVID-19 vaccine

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Amy Snyder

Coppell High School AP chemistry teacher Amy Snyder receives her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on March 9 at CVS Pharmacy in Southwest Arlington. Teachers nationwide have been eligible to get the vaccine since March 8. (Photo courtesy Amy Snyder)

Iniya Nathan, Staff Writer

Teachers across the nation celebrated in relief when President Joe Biden announced he was using “the full authority of the federal government” to help teachers and other school staff members get the COVID-19 vaccine. Teachers immediately started registering to be vaccinated and on March 8, they became eligible nationwide to receive vaccines under the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

In Coppell ISD, all K-12 teachers are required to teach in person, which means interaction with in-person students, other staff, educators and potential exposure to the virus. The vaccine provides an extra layer of protection against COVID-19 to educators and their loved ones. 

Some educators were frustrated it took this long for teachers to have a priority.

“It doesn’t make sense to me knowing that students have the option to come to school or not while teachers are told to report back,” Coppell High School English teacher Matthew Bowden said. “If it wasn’t safe for everybody to come back, was it safe enough for anybody? There were a lot of steps that didn’t make sense to me. We heard that frontline workers, nurses and doctors were getting the vaccine but teachers weren’t. We’re here teaching students and being exposed to the risk everyday, yet we’re not one of the first to get the vaccine. That seemed very counterproductive.”

I do not like masks; I like to smile at people and make them feel better; I like to be present with them, but I also know that right now, until we can get more people vaccinated, we still [need to] keep all our safety measures in place.”

— CHS Principal Laura Springer

Biden promised that by his 100th day of presidency 100 million doses of the COVID-19 would be administered in the US. The United States met that goal on March 18, around 42 days ahead of schedule, now more than 187 million doses administered, that number increasing by the day

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is uncertain the vaccine prevents an individual from spreading the virus, all approved vaccines are effective. 

Many students in Coppell ISD switched from online learning to in-person learning for the last nine weeks of school. During the third nine weeks, 35.9% of district’s students were in-person learners which increased to 44% for the fourth nine weeks. At CHS, there are 883 students that are in-person for the fourth nine weeks, compared to the 825 in-person learners from the third nine weeks.

Prior to the last nine weeks of the 2020-21 school year, CHS senior Anushri Saxena was online for all of her classes except  band. For the last nine weeks, Saxena decided to attend CHS fully in-person  after monitoring cases at CHS and waiting for her parents and many teachers to receive the vaccine or appointments to receive it. However, Saxena does not feel completely safe in all areas of the school. 

“In the hallways, it’s pretty crowded and then you see people who aren’t following the protocols exactly,” Saxena said. “The halls make me nervous because they’re somewhat crowded, but in terms of my classes, it didn’t really make a difference because the majority of [students are not] coming back [in-person] anyways. [In my classes], the least [number of students] is one and the most is four or five.”

Coppell High School honors and AP chemistry teacher Courtney Crosby receives her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine on March 25 at JPS Medical Home at Northeast Tarrant. Teachers nationwide have been eligible to get the vaccine since March 8. (Photo courtesy Courtney Crosby)

According to CHS Principal Laura Springer, despite the fact teachers are getting vaccinated, safety regulations such as social distancing and wearing a mask will still continue on campus through the end of the school year.

“I am a science person, and I’m also a leader,” Springer said. “I need to set a standard in this building. I’m still going to wear a mask. I’m still going to make sure that we also social distance. I’m going to ask kids to wear a mask and teachers to wear a mask everyday. I do not like masks; I like to smile at people and make them feel better; I like to be present with them, but I also know that right now, until we can get more people vaccinated, we still [need to] keep all our safety measures in place.”

As of March 29, anyone 16 years or older in Texas, health and status notwithstanding, can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Each vaccine site has a different process for signing up and it is recommended to check the site’s instructions to schedule an appointment. However, anyone 80 years or older has their appointment prioritized, and even if they arrive at any place providing the vaccine without an appointment they are prioritized. However, some people that are now eligible are concerned about the side effects of receiving the vaccine and are waiting for more information before doing so.

“Anytime something new comes up, there’s always a little bit of hesitancy,” said CHS chemistry teacher Courtney Crosby, who received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. “You’d have to look at the research and the data and make the choice that’s best for you. I don’t think [taking the vaccine] should be required; I think it should be a choice. Present all the best information you can have and make that choice for yourselves, so I did that. There’s always a little bit of hesitancy, but [you should] have faith in people and have faith in science.”

However, there are also people who think that being immune from the virus outweighs any of the side effects. According to CHS AP chemistry teacher Amy Snyder, her 74-year-old father John Schultz contracted COVID-19 a few months before he was vaccinated, causing his reaction to the vaccine to be severe. Snyder thinks despite the severe reaction, it was better than him facing any of the symptoms of COVID-19 again.

“Any vaccine has potential side effects, even Tylenol has potential side effects,” said Snyder, who received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. “I have two young children at home and at this point of my life, anything I can do to lengthen my life and therefore spend more time with my family, is worth a week of fighting flu-like symptoms.”

To learn more about the vaccines and vaccination process visit the CDC website and the Dallas County Health & Human Services.

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