Kanawha County Schools begins vaccination process for employees

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Hundreds of Kanawha County Schools employees have now been vaccinated for COVID-19, just days before the school system plans to return to 5-day in-person instruction.

Employees 50 years of age and older lined up at South Charleston High School and Capital High School Thursday to receive doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in an event hosted by the state’s largest school system and West Virginia Joint Interagency Taskforce.

“I’m still a little scared of the immunization but I am more scared of the virus. I am doing what I needed to do,” Taunia Harper, the Attendance Clerk at Hayes Middle School in St. Albans told MetroNews.

Harper, who attended the event at South Charleston, was one of around 900 employees that signed up for the split location event. Many employees said the process was smooth and shot was painless.

Numerous employees of the state’s largest school system, including Harper, expressed concern about missing long periods of paid time at work because of a potential outbreak or exposure to the virus, causing self-quarantine.

Harper added she is hesitant about Kanawha County Schools’ plan to move forward with the 5-day in-person learning plan. Gov. Jim Justice has announced all elementary and middle schools in the state be allowed to return January 19, regardless of a county’s status on the COVID-19 alert map.

Kanawha County has been in the red, the color meant for the highest designation of virus spread, or hovering around red for several weeks.

“I don’t think we will be able to social distance enough for kids to be back every day. I really wish they would do something like split the alphabet and do Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Tuesday, Thursday,” Harper said.

She admitted that the virtual and e-learning for students has not gone well, including with her own children that are students in Kanawha County. 54 percent of students in the county signed up for in-person learning for the spring term, which begins January 19.

Harper said these are tough calls to make on what to do with learning.

“If you’ve got a child who is self-motivated and can do it without supervision, great. If you have children like mine who are not self-motivated and need someone right there to keep them on task and motivated, it is hard,” Harper said.

The employees vaccinated Thursday, who signed up weeks ago, will need a second dose in one month, a school system spokesperson said.

There will be future events for other employees announced at a later time. Kanawha County Schools has around 3,800 employees.

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