GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The state’s largest school district is starting to ask teachers and staff if they will take the COVID-19 vaccine to help keep children and teachers protected against the virus.
Gwinnett County Schools announced Wednesday that it would be going to all-digital next week, and it’s unclear if teachers and students will return the week after.
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This comes as the district began preparations to give vaccine shots to its 22,000 employees.
“What do you expect the response to be?” Channel 2′s Tony Thomas asked Gwinnett Schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach.
“We really don’t know,” Roach said.
She said the survey will be a key step in deciding how big the mass vaccination effort will be.
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“Our health department needs to know how many vaccinations they might be dealing with,” Roach said.
Other big factors include: When will teachers be eligible under the state’s guidelines and when will the health department have enough doses to administer the shots.
The push comes at a time of increasing COVID-19 cases in Gwinnett County.
Nesbit Elementary School near Tucker is reporting one of the highest numbers of cases in Gwinnett County. The school has six positive or suspected cases of the virus, with 136 students and staff out because of close contact.
“This is a loss we will never recover,” said Joan Jones.
The vaccinations come too late for her Aunt Maude. The Gwinnett parapro died last week from COVID-19. Her family says she was exposed at Rock Springs Elementary School.
Administrators say they are following health guidelines and look forward to the shots beginning.
“We are doing all we can as a school system to keep people healthy and safe during this time,” Roach said.
The district said there are two major factors leading to the decision to go all digital next week: rising cases and staffing.
Since the holiday break, Gwinnett’s superintendent said 785 teachers or staff have been out of work because of the virus -- 460 of them teachers.
Substitute teachers are also in short supply right now.