EVERETT, Wash. — On Saturday, 650 teachers and school employees were vaccinated in Everett. The COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Evergreen Middle School was a partnership between the Everett School District, Safeway and Albertsons.
Teachers were given the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Safeway received the single-dose vaccine directly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the Federal Pharmacy Retail Program.
Stacy McHarness teaches fourth grade at Mill Creek Elementary in the Everett School District.
“This is the day I’ve been dreaming of, super excited to get my shot,” said McHarness,”I’m tired of being on-screen for 12 hours a day, 70 hours a week. I’m pretty happy to be going back and having a division between home and school.”
The youngest learners in Everett returned to class over the last month, with fourth and fifth graders heading back on March 15.
The vaccine is a relief to teachers.
“It’s excitement, it’s relief with teachers. It’s been a difficult year, a really hard year. This is something to look forward to. It’s something to be excited about, it’s something getting back to normal,” said Jared Kink, president of the Everett Education Association.
At this point, there is no plan for secondary school students to return.
“We’re looking at the possibility. Secondary is much more complex than elementary because of the scheduling of kids, how their days work, the sheer number of students,” said Kink.
David Bergeson teaches special education at Everett High School.
“It was great, painless, it was a second of life and on to the next chapter. I’m looking forward to it,” said Bergeson after getting vaccinated.
In Seattle, the Seattle Public Schools expect about 700 preschool and special education teachers back in class on Monday, with about 1,000 preschool and special education students returning on Thursday. The district says it needs to get the most vulnerable children back to class so they can receive the support they urgently need.
The district and teachers union have not reached an agreement on a return to in-person learning.
The teacher’s union says the district is forcing them into an unsafe situation and accused them of bullying. On Wednesday, representatives of the Seattle Education Association voted for teachers to remain remote.
“SEA is not opposed to going back in-person, that is not what we’re trying to say at all,” said Joy Springer, an occupational therapist with Seattle Schools and SEA union representative. “What we’re saying is that transition to in-person services needs to be grounded in equity, safety and informed consent.”
KIRO-7 asked Seattle Public Schools what will happen if teachers are not in class on Thursday when students return.
“We have prepared videos for health and safety training. If teachers who are scheduled to be in classes on Thursday aren’t there, we have professionally trained central office staff who will substitute for them on Thursday and Friday,” said Tim Robinson, Lead Media Relations Specialist, Seattle Public Schools.