Chesterfield County Public Schools short on COVID-19 vaccines for staff

Chesterfield County

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield County Public Schools has not received the full order of COVID-19 vaccines it needs to vaccinate teachers and staff, according to an announcement from superintendent Mervin B. Daugherty.

This announcement was made in an email sent out to CCPS teachers and staff on Tuesday afternoon.

The email said the school district placed an order for approximately 8,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, and were told by county government officials that they would receive about 50 percent of that order by the end of this week.

Dr. Daugherty said the county received 1,000 doses of the vaccine on Monday, 750 of which will be given to CCPS staff.

“Obviously, 750 shots will not meet the needs identified in the plan we shared Friday,” he said in the email. “As a result we will have to temporarily delay our school-based vaccine clinics.”

Dr. Daugherty added Cohort No. 1 school-based staff, Juvenile Detention Home staff and Transportation’s Area 5 staff will receive the first dose of the vaccination later this week. 

He said the Chesterfield Health District will place another large order for the vaccine today, in hopes it will arrive by next week.

“In the meantime, we are actively working with state leaders and are requesting that they clarify at this time what they consider a realistic weekly delivery total to be, and will design a flexible distribution plan accordingly,” Dr. Daugherty said.

In effect, staff like Amber McClain, who teaches preschool for CCPS, will likely be waiting longer for a vaccine. 

“Now I will have all of my students because there’s not a virtual option for pre-K students, so I will have my full class on February 1 and will make it more challenging for us to be able to socially distance even 3 feet. And, so, knowing that we would have at least one dose of the vaccine was making me more comfortable about that,” McClain said.

McClain explains that teacher hesitation towards a return to in-person learning is not about not wanting to do their jobs but instead about wanting to feel safe while doing them.

Despite this shortage in vaccines, the superintendent said there are no plans to delay the return of elementary school students to in-person learning. Dr. Daugherty said this is because the decision to bring children back to schools was made before vaccines were available in Chesterfield.

Elementary school students will return to school buildings for in-person instruction five days a week starting on Feb. 1. Today is the last day for Chesterfield parents to decide whether or not they want to send their children back into the classroom or continue virtual learning.

CCPS parents Roy and Serenity Myers opted to keep their kids at home, but they’re still facing disappointment. 

“Knowing now that we don’t have enough vaccines for the teachers is going to really impact people’s decisions,” Serenity Myers said. “Most people want their teachers to be safe, They’re amazing, they’re our heroes and they’re forced into the situation too.”

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