POLK COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA)- Starting Wednesday, February 24th, the NC Department of Health and Human Services expanded vaccine eligibility to people who work with children in Group 3, including child care providers and Pre-K and K-12 teachers, principals, bus drivers, custodial and cafeteria staff.
The department said this new group makes about 240,000 more people eligible for the vaccine.
As some of the world has paused amid the pandemic, schools have found ways to keep the wheels turning.
“I think we need to remember that there have been a lot of people out there that have been working day after day after day on the front lines,” said Superintendent of Polk County Schools, Aaron Greene. “Our teachers do so much more than just teaching us academics. They take care of our kids, they allow folks to go out and go to work.”
Currently, many schools across the state are on a hybrid in-person and online learning schedule.
However, Greene said he’s looking toward next year, explaining, “I’m hopeful that if we can get our staff and our educators vaccinated that by the fall, even though there may be some remaining restrictions and guidelines that we can get students in school a lot more often and for a lot longer period of time.”
Henderson County Public Schools reported that 70 percent of its employees want to get the COVID- 19 vaccine, according to a January staff survey.
As this new group becomes eligible, there are still others ahead of them in line.
“Right now, there are probably a good 800 new applicants for vaccines 65 and older that’s come in in the past two weeks,” Public Director for Health Services in Polk County, Joshua Kennedy said.
He said they’ll get educators vaccinated as soon as possible.
Kennedy explained, “Right now we are working with the school systems to identify those teachers who are interested in getting the vaccine which will help keep things moving forward in the community.”
Polk County said they’ll start making final decisions on having more in-person classes come fall, once they have a better idea on how many teachers were able to get vaccinated during the summer.
In North Carolina registering for the COVID-19 vaccine is done on a county- by county- basis.
The NC Department of Health and Human Services said on March 10th, the state will expand eligibility to more frontline workers in Group 3. That Group 3 category includes grocery workers, firefighters, postal employees and restaurant workers.
To learn more about the state’s categorization of people eligible for the vaccine, click here.
To find your place in line for the vaccine in NC, click here.