700 Coweta Schools Employees receive COVID-19 Vaccinations

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Pictured above – Newnan Crossing Elementary School Principal Page Tarleton displays a “thank you” sign to staff for Friday’s vaccination pod for school system employees at the Coweta County Fairgrounds. (Coweta Schools photo)

From Coweta County Schools Press Release

Coweta County School System employees began lining up in their cars at the Coweta County Fairgrounds before 8:30 a.m. Friday morning, ready to receive the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that they had signed up for.

By the end of the afternoon, 700 school system employees had received the one-dose vaccine, administered by nurses with the Georgia Department of Public Health and the school system’s Health Program.  A second vaccination pod for Coweta Schools employees will be held Friday, March 19.

“It has been a great day,” said Coweta Superintendent Evan Horton, who observed the vaccination pod throughout the day.  “It has been very well organized.  I can’t say enough about the work that District 4 Public Health and our own School Health Program staff have done to organize this vaccination pod for our employees.”

In addition to District 4 and Coweta Schools nursing staff, Horton thanked Georgia Governor Brian Kemp for his office’s allocation of 1,400 Johnson and Johnson doses for use by school system employees.  He also thanked Coweta County Emergency Management, and the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department, who worked at the event on Friday along with school system and public health staff.

Horton said the mood among employees Friday was happy.

“The overwhelming response has been upbeat, and grateful to be able to get the vaccine.,” he said. “It’s been a long, hard year for everyone, and people I’ve talked to today are thankful to have the opportunity.“

March 12 marked one year to the day that the school system closed schools due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.  Though employees shifted quickly to online learning for Coweta students, many Coweta school-based teachers and employees did not return to their schools until the summer, and students did not return to face-to-face instruction until September 8, 2020.  School system employees have continued to provide both virtual and in-person learning for students since then.

“So today is a big step toward moving out of the grips of COVID-19,” said Horton.  “These vaccinations allow us to approach the remainder of the school year very confident that we can safely have school as we have since September 8, without interruption.  We’re not out of this yet, but it represents, hopefully, a beginning of the end.”

Coweta Schools held a virtual-learning day for all students on Friday, March 12, in order to allow employees to go through the first day of COVID-19 vaccinations.  The second vaccination pod will be held on an already-scheduled teacher workday.  The vaccination pods are being held at the Fairgrounds site because District 4 Public Health already uses the locations for weekly vaccinations and COVID testing.

Holding daylong Friday events is allowing the school system to administer all 1,400 doses allocated to Coweta Schools over two days (700 each day), and allows for a recommended two-day recovery period for employees who receive the vaccine and a return to regular instruction on Monday, March 15.

The school system opened up the vaccines to any employee who wanted them through an online survey.  School system nurses called employees and scheduled appointments at the Fairgrounds this week or next.

Horton and school system nursing staff have noted that – in addition to the 1,400 staff members who will receive doses on March 12 and 19 – other school system staffers are receiving vaccines in other opportunities.  Many employees who were eligible in Tier 1 (those over 65, front line workers such as nurses, and caregivers) received doses prior to March 8, and some school system staff are reporting that they are voluntarily receiving vaccines at other venues.

“I’m very confident – between the pods we’re doing today and next week, and hearing from those employees who have already gotten it or are finding vaccines at other locations – that we’re going to be very close to having two-thirds of our workforce vaccinated before the end of the month,” said Horton.

Nurses with the Georgia Department of Health, District 4 administered the vaccines in a drive-through system at the Fairgrounds.

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