Kern County COVID-19 vaccination plan turns its eyes to educators

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Posted at 4:20 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 19:30:00-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Many are anxiously awaiting their turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine. As of now, Kern County is in Phase 1B of the plan where they are currently vaccinating those 65 and older. Up next are those who work in schools. 23ABC’s Bayne Froney explains how a plan is in the works to help get educators vaccinated in a safe and organized manner.

According to Kern County's vaccination plan. educators are up next for getting vaccinated. However, some community members want to continue distance learning until those vaccines are administered.

The Richland School District currently allows for in-person learning for small cohorts of students but some staff members like Ingle would prefer to go back to distanced learning until the vaccine is administered to educators.

“We were kind of thinking that we were going to stay in distanced learning until February or March. Until at least teachers got the vaccine and that did not happen,” said Richland Junior High School teacher Jeff Ingle. “With us being so close to getting a vaccine, hopefully within the next few weeks, why can’t we just wait, just a little bit longer?”

Ingle’s wife created an online petition, in which staff and community members have requested that the Richland School Board reconsider going back to online learning for safety reasons. 23ABC reached out to the school district for comment but did not hear back.

Mass vaccination site coming to kern county, vaccine education awareness

As of right now, Kern County is currently in Phase 1a (Tiers 1-3), which includes healthcare works in acute care and skilled nursing care facilities; paramedics, EMT, and emergency medical services; dialysis centers; specialty and care clinics; and residents in long-term care settings. The county has also begun Phase 1b (Tier 1) by vaccinating those 65 years of age or older. Next up are those at risk in education, childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture.

Kern County Vaccination Phases

After that, Pase 1b (Tier 2) would include those that work in transportation; industrial, commercial, residential, and sheltering facilities and services; critical manufacturing; and those in congregate settings where an outbreak is a risk such as those that are incarcerated and the homeless.

According to Robert Meszaros, the communications director with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office, they are currently in the early stages of developing options for school employees to be vaccinated.

“It would just be another tool in the tool kit as we look to reopen schools, sooner rather than later,” explained Meszaros. “Part of that planning process is to survey the employees in Kern County to really get a good idea of how many people are interested in getting the vaccination as soon as they become available.”

From that survey, about 60% of all public school employees in Kern County are interested in receiving the vaccine and they could be getting vaccinated a lot sooner than later.

“Originally we thought that the eligibility period for educational sectors would start probably in February, but we have since learned that it may, in fact, be even sooner than that,” added Meszaros.

Teachers like Ingle hope that once the vaccine is administered they can once again teach in a safe way.

“We want to be able to teach them. We want to be able to be the teachers that we can be, but we want to do it in a safe way, in a safe manner.”

According to Meszaros, they will continue to update the community once they have more information about this plan moving forward.

In the meantime, public health is urging residents to continue practicing healthy habits such as hand washing, physical distancing, and wearing a face-covering when in public.

For more information, visit the Public Health website for current vaccination information and resources. Additionally,an interactive map is now available identifying community providers who are currently offering vaccinations.