BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City Schools and Johns Hopkins are partnering up to vaccinate teachers and staff.

An expected 500 employees will be vaccinated this week, including those who are already working in schools in person– teachers, meal service, administrators and custodians.

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“We know how important it is to the long term health and well-being of our city and our neighbors to see the safe and successful reopening of City schools,” says Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J Daniels. “I am glad Johns Hopkins can fulfill its mission to support the city and its citizens – especially our youngest – through this urgent and important partnership.”

At the current scheduled pace of 500 a week, it will take 20 weeks to get all teachers and other staff vaccinated.

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They are hoping to ramp up that pace as supply hopefully increases, WJZ’s Mike Hellgren reports.

“That’s going to take about 20 weeks. That is not a particularly strong timeline,” said Johns Hopkins’ Dr. Gabe Kelen during a press briefing to announce the district’s plan. “If we can get commitment to use more vaccine or get more vaccine, we’re happy to ramp this up significantly.”

That pace is so slow it would take roughly until June to get all school staff vaccinated. School employees get a special link to make their appointments.

City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises said teachers will not be mandated to take the vaccine. There will be multiple vaccination sites.

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Teachers are receiving links and multiple sites to sign up for appointments and get information.

“This is just the first day of what is a multi-step effort to provide vaccinations for teachers and staff working together with students. This collaboration is just an example of Baltimore City at its best,” she said.

In the first half hour after opening up appointments, 100 people signed up.

Dr. Santelises also said, “We do not have in-school spread.” She outlined strict safety procedures in place at school buildings. The school district will hold a town hall meeting on plans to expand in-person instruction at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby released a statement on the partnership, saying he hopes that the partnership can alleviate any anxieties educators might have to get the vaccine:

“The partnership between Baltimore City Public Schools and Johns Hopkins Medicine to provide our educators and school staff with the life-saving vaccine is a tremendous example of what we can accomplish when we work together,” City Council President Nick J. Mosby said. “And there is no more noble cause than to keep the heroes who work in our schools safe while they teach, protect and nurture our children.

“While I do hear and understand our educators who are scared of the vaccine and a return to the classroom, it is my sincere hope and expectation that this partnership can help alleviate their anxiety and work through their very real fears.

“This pandemic has dealt us so many devastating blows; it is important to acknowledge the victories. This collaboration and the results it will provide to our weary city is cause for celebration. This gets us one step closer to our children’s safe return to the classroom.”

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.