After months of waiting their turn, Santa Clara educators are getting their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD) cleared educators to sign up for vaccines on Feb. 28, and local educators responded.
“We’ve had teachers signing up already getting vaccinations,” said Amber Wacht, the President of the Santa Clara Unified School District’s (SCUSD) teachers’ union. “A bulk of our teachers have been going to the 49ers Stadium because that’s been the easiest for them.”
“We are so grateful and relieved that, through our partnership with the Santa Clara County Office of Education, 100% of employees who want to be vaccinated will have been given opportunities to receive their first dose by Tuesday, March 9,” said SCUSD Superintendent Dr. Stella M. Kemp.
With teachers getting vaccinated, SCUSD’s Board of Trustees has asked the district to amend the Phase Two Reopening Plan. The School Board will address the amendment during its Thursday night board meeting. Under the amendment, in-person learning would still begin on the first Monday after Santa Clara County moves to the Orange Tier, but the length of time for the phase-in would be shortened from three weeks to two weeks.
Santa Clara County entered the Red Tier on March 1. If the downward trend continues, Santa Clara County could reach the Orange Tier as early as March 24, which means the Phase Two Reopening Plan could start as early as March 29.
By amending the Phase Two Reopening Plan to bring students back faster, all students who want to be learning in-person will be able to before SCUSD’s planned spring break.
“We are doing everything possible to ensure a safe return for students and staff. We are confident in our safety plan and that, with all hands on deck, we are ready for staff and students to return to our campuses,” said Dr. Kemp. “While in-person learning will look very different due to the safety protocols, it is so exciting to welcome more of our students back to our campuses.”
Wacht says teachers are ready to safely return to in-person learning.
“[The vaccine is] one added layer of protection for teachers coming back to the classroom,” said Wacht. “Teachers, in general, are very excited to be back with students in the safest way possible…we miss our students. We miss being in the classroom.”
“Going virtual this past year was a challenge. I think our teachers have done really well, in terms of trying to be as innovative as possible, engaging students, trying out new technology, but I would say a lot of teachers, they’re planning and working twice as hard,” said Wacht. “I think as soon as everything is safe when we’re ready to have kids in school, we’re definitely wanting to do that.”
The School Board meeting is on March 11. It starts at 6:30 p.m. and will be streamed live. The agenda is online now and includes a link for public comment.