HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Henrico County Public Schools will be delaying student’s return to in-person learning while school nurses work to provide vaccines to faculty and staff.
As the county works to provide vaccines to thousands of employees, they will be pulling nurses away from school buildings. Because of this, the school system has decided to delay in-person learning, which was scheduled to return on Jan. 25.
All students will now continue with predominantly virtual learning.
When HCPS announced specific return dates last week they had not been planning on integrating school nurses into their plans to vaccinate staff members.
“I humbly ask for patience and forgiveness, particularly from our teachers who are eager to return to in-person learning, as well as from our families who enthusiastically opted to return their students to our schools and showed tremendous confidence in our health-risk mitigation planning,” said HCPS Superintendent Amy Cashwell.
Henrico County Second Grade Teacher Shannon Hocutt said she will be taking the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to her.
“I can’t wait to get it,” said Hocutt. “I knew it was kind of a rushed vaccination so I was a little bit iffy about it, but now I’m so excited to get it. I’ve had a chance to research and educate myself on how the vaccination works.”
Hocutt could get that vaccine in a matter of days. Henrico County sent a letter to its teachers and staff Monday about the vaccination process.
In the letter, Cashwell said, “…this is a priority effort and vaccines could begin to be administered to all employees starting as soon as next week.”
Following that letter, the school district sent a survey to get a head count of how many employees want the vaccine this month and how many want more information before making a decision.
“It was very simple. Just your name, your email, are you going to get the vaccination? If not, why?,” Hocutt explained.
The students previously scheduled to start in-person in January and February will no longer be returning on the dates announced last week. HCPS has not released any new return dates yet.
The COVID-19 vaccination process will take weeks to complete and will delay student’s returns until at least late February. Each vaccine recipient receives their first shot and then must wait weeks for their second dosage. The district did not indicate in their release any plans to have students return between each round of vaccinations.
Despite the delay of getting students back into classroom, Hocutt believes the vaccine is offering a sign of hope.
“Getting to teach the way that I know how to teach and love how to teach, I think we’re all excited about that,” Hocutt told 8News.