A number of Emory & Henry’s students and staff have received the COVID-19 vaccination due to their close involvement with the K-12 education system. These people are primarily in the Education Department.
Eligibility opened up for members of the 1B vaccination group mid-January. According to the Virginia Department of Health, the 1B vaccination group includes frontline essential workers, people over 65, people between 16 and 64 with underlying health conditions, and those living in either correction facilities, homeless shelters, or migrant labor camps.
Dr. Sandy Frederick, Assistant Professor of Education at E&H, received the COVID-19 vaccine mid-January. Frederick, along with other Emory & Henry associates, were vaccinated at the Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Virginia. Abingdon, and the rest of Washington County, VA, administered the Moderna vaccine, one of the two forms of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Education Department’s involvement with K-12 students allowed them to be included in the frontline essential workers eligible for the vaccine. Frederick said, “K-12 teachers were in [the 1B group] and we were very fortunate that Washington County was able to accommodate us really quickly.”
Frederick thought it was important to receive the vaccine. She said, “I got the vaccine to protect myself and my family.” Being involved in the traditional education system was another factor in getting the vaccine. “You have to have personnel in the building to be able to have school, so whatever they could do to protect personnel is an important move.”
Last semester, Washington County schools were short-staffed. Frederick said, “It’s not just teachers getting sick; it’s being quarantined. If someone they live with gets [COVID-19] then they have to quarantine too. After a while, there’s so many teachers out that there isn’t enough [substitutes] to fill the vacant spots.”
With so many teachers out due to COVID-19, Emory & Henry education students substituted at Washington County schools. One of these students was Amber Blevins, a senior working towards her Masters of Education.
Like many others in the Education Department, Blevins received the COVID-19 vaccine. Blevins said, “I got my first dose in January and my second two weeks ago.” She was eager to get the vaccine because of her involvement in the K-12 setting. Blevins said, “It was available to me, and I know the vaccine will lead us closer to normalcy.”
As a future educator, Blevins thinks it is important for those able to receive the vaccine. She said, “We’re going out into the school systems and interacting with students who are too young to get the vaccine. Not only should we want to keep ourselves safe, but we should want to keep the students we work with, and their families, safe too.”