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Linn County school nurses receive first dose of COVID-19 vaccine



School nurses from all Linn County school districts received their first shot for the coronavirus last week.

School nurses are part of the Phase 1a group, but health leaders say there’s still a long way to go.

Health services facilitator for Cedar Rapids Community School District, Sandy Byard, says Linn County Public health provided the district enough doses for all school nurses in the county to get vaccinated at the Educational Leadership and Support Center in Cedar Rapids.

Byard says 100 school health care providers rolled up their sleeves for their first dose.

While this is a huge step towards normalcy, Byard says CRCSD will continue to require masks, social distance and frequent handwashing.

“Getting our high risk 1a health care workers vaccinated was really exciting,” said Byard. “They are the ones that are with the kids for really extended periods of time who are sick waiting for their parents to come and pick them up and so it’s really an added layer of protection for everybody.”

Byard hopes everyone who has the opportunity to get the vaccine, does.

“People were so excited. They were coming in smiling and happy. They were really excited to get vaccinated and were really thankful we got enough doses in Linn County to do all those schools.”

Teachers PK-12 are next in the vaccination process. They are part of the first tier in Phase 1b which begins Feb. 1.

Superintendent at Linn-Mar Community School District, Shannon Bisgard, says it’s critical to get teachers who work directly with students vaccinated.

“We would really love to see, with the pressure from our governor and our legislature to get our schools get back open again, we would love to see the same pressure on making sure our staff get vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Bisgard.

Linn-Mar middle schools are set to return to 100 percent in-person classes on Feb 2.

As of Monday, Linn-Mar has 21 staff members and 253 students in quarantine district wide.

Superintendent Bisgard says those numbers are down drastically from November, when the district had 90 staff and more than 600 students in quarantine at the time.

“We know right now we’re in tier one of the phase 1b. We know that we will potentially start vaccination starting the first of February for staff,” said Superintendent Bisgard. “We also know there are a lot of people in that category so that might take a while for that to happen. The sooner we can get our staff vaccinated the better for everyone involved..”

It is unclear exactly when teachers will be able to get the first dose. The vaccine is still in short supply in Linn County.

Iowa’s News Now will continue to follow any changes to school vaccination plans.

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