KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Gov. Laura Kelly announced Thursday that Kansas is on track to have teachers fully vaccinated by the week of March 22.
Local school districts and health departments have been coordinating that effort, and many are doing it differently.
The Wyandotte County Health Department put teachers on the vaccine priority list before the state mandate, which allowed for KCK Public Schools to stretch out teacher vaccinations.
“I found out on a Thursday that we would be able to start vaccinating on Monday,” said KCK Health Services Coordinator Elizabeth Morris. “So it was very overwhelming to figure that out right away.”
Morris is in charge of the district’s vaccination efforts for 4,600 employees. She scheduled 200 teachers per day for vaccines over a six-month period. As a result, 55% of KCKPS employees are vaccinated with more to come before the district returns to full in person learning April 5.
“I was very intentional, intentional about making sure that we didn’t send a whole building and then have a whole building have to shut down,” Morris said.
Leavenworth Schools did the opposite.
“What we didn’t want to do is have staff members up and feel like they had to teach sick, or to wake up and feel like they had to take an absence for the day,” said Jake Potter, director of public relations for the Leavenworth School District.
The Leavenworth County Health Department offered two single-day vaccination clinics, the first Feb. 4. Some staff experienced mild symptoms, and with the potential for more people having more sever symptoms after the second shot, one school day was canceled.
“About a week ago, we communicated to school families that we would cancel school for the following day, Friday, March 5,” Potter said. “Part of that was because we also looped our substitute teachers into the vaccination pool.”
Leavenworth schools have been open to full in-person learning since October, and about 80% of students have been back in the classroom since then. The district is trending at just under 70% of staff fully vaccinated.
“Our school district has been committed to facilitating as much in person learning as possible. I think the vaccinations for all that are interested are a key component of that,” Potter said.
This week, Kansas received its largest number of vaccination doses yet: 150,000. The priority is finishing up teacher vaccinations to get children back in school as soon as possible.