‘Georgia will get back to normal’: Kemp expands vaccine rollout to school staff

Published: Feb. 25, 2021 at 11:22 PM EST
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ATLANTA (WRDW/WAGT) - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is ready for Georgians to get back to normal, and that normalcy starts with getting kids back in the classroom.

“For too many parents. This is simply impossible to do while your child is home, learning through a screen. Virtual schooling is leaving too many children behind, parents are literally at wit’s end,” Kemp said in a news conference Thursday.

And to make that possible, Kemp said starting March 8, K-12 teachers and staff can sign up and get vaccinated.

“Georgia will get back to normal. We will protect the most vulnerable and we will beat this virus,” he said.

This anticipated announcement comes after educators and leaders across the state began pushing to vaccinate school staff.

Now over the next 10 days, school districts must work to come up with a plan. Whether it be working with local healthcare providers or allowing school nurses to administer vaccines.

“I’m not ordering schools to open, but I believe that now with this other tool. There should be no reason for us to get kids back in the classroom,” Kemp had said.

Right now, Richmond County school officials say they don’t have a plan for vaccinating teachers just yet.

But in a statement today, RCSS Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Bradshaw said the district “will work closely with its partners in public health and local health providers to support our teachers and staff who would like to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The district currently has 4,315 employees. Still vaccinating staff won’t be easy, as the state still has a higher demand than supply.

But Dr. Bradshaw said that “although we have a long way to go until normalcy is restored to our schools, Governor Kemp expanding eligibility to school personnel for the vaccine is a giant step toward getting us there.”

Kemp says 1.9 million Georgians have already been vaccinated and he believes we’ll see a continued increase in supply.

He would like to see kids back five days a week before the end of this school year.

“Moving forward, we cannot delay full in-person learning any longer. Our children cannot afford to wait until fall,” he said.

But the vaccine expansion didn’t just include school staff. It also includes adults with developmental disabilities and their caregivers and parents who have children with complex medical conditions.

Over in South Carolina, the bill to bump teachers up on the vaccine priority list passed in the Senate but it’s now stalled by a House Subcommittee vote. South Carolina teachers are still paired with other essential workers in Phase 1B.

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