WFPS, FPS say only way to get 2,000+ staff vaccinated is going virtual short-term

Teachers getting vaccinated
Teachers getting vaccinated(KSNB)
Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 5:33 PM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Many parents are upset tonight after two local schools districts announced there will be distance learning next week while staff get their COVID-19 vaccines.

West Fargo middle and high school students will only learn virtually next Wednesday, March 10, while all Fargo Public School students will online learn for two days.

“However you view it, to us, it’s a celebration. It’s a huge step forward in the ability to move back toward normalcy to some sense,” Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Rupak Gandhi said.

While school leaders say they know a few more days of distance learning this month is not ideal, it’s the only option in order to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the arms of over 2,000 staff members.

“It’s not easy to get over 1,000 people in a day and a half just at certain times or after school times,” Gandhi said.

“Having the ability to do all staff at once means we were able to pre-plan with staff, subs, and families to hopefully alleviate any need for a last-minute move to distance learning,” Heather Leas with West Fargo Schools said.

Gandhi says it was a shock to both school districts when local health leaders stated they could get all staff members vaccinated within a three- day window next week, as school leaders assumed the vaccine distribution would have to be spread out over days or weeks. However, the mass vaccinations have to take place at the county’s vaccination center due to storage requirements for the vaccine, and can’t be done on the weekend due to the vaccine’s shelf-life.

“And again, they’re responsible for not just making sure they’re vaccinating our staff, but vaccinating everyone else. To ask them to do anything special for the district would create an increased burden in them and potentially even delay other groups who need to get it as well,” Gandhi said.

While many parents are upset about the last-minute schooling change, Corynn Cooper says it’s the best and safest option for everyone.

“I think the goal that everybody wants to get to is what we used to consider normal. And if it takes four day of kiddos out of school for us to get there, then I’m all for it,” Cooper, a FPS mom of two said.

Cooper added the plan allows a safety net in the case of any adverse reactions, as this way parents won’t be put in an even more dire scheduling situation.

“I guess I’d rather err on the side of caution, because then we can plan a week in advance as opposed to hours,” Cooper said.

Both districts say their staff are not required to get the vaccine.

FPS says the district will have two more virtual learning days on March 31 and April 1 when their staff receives their second doses,WFPS says they are still reviewing their plan for that week, but expect to notify parents soon.

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