‘I want them in school’: KCPS hopes to vaccinate teachers, staff quickly to get kids back in classrooms

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Getting kids in school means getting the vaccine in teachers’ arms.

Kansas City Public Schools is the first local school district rolling out vaccines to teachers and staff. It wants to get kids back to the classroom by March.

“I want them in. That’s just the bottom line. I want them in school,” Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell said.

The district is working with Truman Medical Centers and Children’s Mercy. Their goal is to get as many teachers vaccinated as possible as soon as they can. The district employs around 2,300 people.

Bedell said they sent out a survey to employees with 70% hoping to get the vaccine when it becomes available, and 14% saying they do not want to take it.

“We’re excited. We believe that as the state has put out its guidance to us around the phase process for administering the vaccination, and we’re getting closer and closer to educators,” Bedell said.

The distribution plan is in line with Gov. Mike Parson’s announcement Thursday that educators are in Phase 1B-Tier 3 of the state’s plan. There is no rollout date for Tier 3, but Charlie Shields, president of Truman Medical Centers, believes it’s on the way soon.

“I think you’ll see the state allow us to move into that next tier, which we’re able to do teachers. We think it’s very important, and we want to make sure that we’re ready when the time comes,” Shields said.

Shields said they are also talking to larger districts like North Kansas City, Raytown, and Independence. 

Andrea Olsen has three children in the Independence School District and is looking forward to the rollout.

“I think it’s a great step forward to trying to get our kids and things back to as normal as possible. Whatever we can do in order to make that happen,” Olsen said.

Dr. Bedell said a vaccine will be available to every teacher who is willing to take it and will work with those who have concerns.

“We all get paid, we have a contract, we all have a job to do, and ultimately the vast majority of the people in our organization are willing to come back and they’re ready to get in front of kids,” Bedell said.

The plan is to make a few of their school’s larger spaces vaccine centers. Bedell said they are looking at Paseo and Manual Tech Center as possibilities.

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