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More than half of Franklin County school employees start COVID-19 vaccinations

More than half of Franklin County school employees start COVID-19 vaccinations

Franklin County school board screengrab

Jason Guilliams (right), Franklin County Public Schools’ director of operations, addresses the Franklin County School Board Monday night as seen in this screen capture. The meeting was livestreamed on YouTube using newly installed audio-visual equipment.

More than half of Franklin County Public Schools’ teachers and staff have received their first round of Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Out of about 1,250 employees, we have roughly 800 vaccinated,” Jason Guilliams, the district’s director of operations, told the Franklin County School Board during the Feb. 8 regular meeting. “That’s about 64% of our workforce.”

Teachers and staff received those vaccinations over two sessions held Jan. 29 and Feb. 3. “Right now we currently have 60 individuals who are on the wait list,” Guilliams said. “We’re working with the county, we’re working with the health department. If they have extras, we’ll try to get those folks in.”

The vaccination news bears additional weight as the school system is two weeks into its second semester reopening plan. Some teachers had protested over the original version of the plan, which set a goal of offering in-person classes four days a week to all households who wanted that option. Those protesting argued that teachers should be given the chance to get vaccinated before schools opened four days a week.

During two emergency meetings in January, the school board revised the plan, following guidance offered by Superintendent Bernice Cobbs. Grades K-7 started four days a week of in-person instruction Jan. 26.

On Feb. 15, eighth grade students come back four days a week, while the county high school will resume a hybrid schedule that divides the student body in half, with one half attending Monday-Tuesday and the other half attending Thursday-Friday, with the remaining days virtual.

The meeting was livestreamed on YouTube using newly installed audio-visual equipment.

Guilliams told the board that the county’s positivity rate — a 14-day average of the percentage of COVID-19 tests in the county that come back positive — has decreased slightly, from 20% on Jan. 11 to 18% as of Monday. The lowering of that rate was a condition for the school reopening plan to proceed.

The Moderna vaccine requires two doses. The second rounds of vaccinations for Franklin County teachers and staff are scheduled for Feb. 26 and March 3, Guilliams said.

The Franklin County schools website maintains a dashboard tracking COVID-19 cases in the school system at https://www.frco.k12.va.us/f_c_p_s_c_o_v_i_d_dashboard.

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