ELLICOTT CITY, MD. (WJZ) — More than 90% of Howard County Public School System educators have received at least their first dose or are scheduled for their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, County Executive Calvin Ball said Thursday.
According to the county, around 9,300 HCPSS employees requested the vaccine. This week, they are anticipating another 300 doses from Johns Hopkins Medicine, and once administered, those doses are set to bring the HCPSS staff closer to 95%.
“Howard County has worked closely with the HCPSS to ensure that our educators and school staff are prioritized as they head back to the classrooms,” Ball said. “This vaccination effort is a monumental undertaking, and we’re proud of how quickly we have been able to get shots in arms. As many in our community look forward to their chance to be vaccinated, this is great progress to moving towards additional groups and phases.”
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The county said the school system is working with its contractors to get all bus drivers and temporary support personnel who haven’t been vaccinated yet a scheduled time for a future clinic through the health department of Johns Hopkins.
The county said HCPSS employees who want a vaccine but have not yet scheduled an appointment should contact their supervisor and make sure to check their emails on a regular basis.
Many educators across Maryland, however, are still scrambling to find available vaccines. In some cases, teachers with pre-existing conditions are choosing to quit because they are so concerned about their health.
“What a lot of our members have experienced is a real wait-and-see game,” Corey Gaber, Vice President of the Baltimore Teachers Union, said.
The Baltimore Teachers’ Union said members were mandated to return to schools before they got a shot.
In Baltimore County, the union president said there have long been concerns about a teacher shortage, and now, the problems might get even worse.
“There are educators who are resigning or retiring, not just because of fear, there’s always an underlying health concern as well, and because they and their doctor don’t feel that it is safe,” Cindy Sexton, President of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, said.
Districts across the state have been working with local health departments to vaccinate teachers, but low supply means many educators will have to continue to wait.
WJZ contacted local school districts and asked if a teacher shortage was a concern. The districts that responded said they have experienced no shortages, and when necessary, substitutes or other staff members are there to assist with instruction.