As more teachers received the COVID-19 vaccine, the path to normal in-person education is becoming clearer, despite lingering issues.
Teaching first graders in a virtual setting is far from ideal for Echo Mountain Primary School teacher Sara Vesci. This is why she's calling her successful first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine a light at the end of the tunnel to normal teaching.
"We are dying to get back with our kids. I know personally, I cannot wait until things are back to normal," said Vesci, who received her first dose of the vaccine on Sunday. "Now I feel a little more safe when we got back in person."
Vesci works in the Paradise Valley Unified School District, which is bringing students back from virtual learning beginning mid-February. On February 16, preschool through sixth-grade students will return for in-person learning. Grades 7-12 will return to school on February 22.
Another teacher is stuck between doses after dealing with what she calls a "glitch" in the state's health website.
"Those of us that got a vaccine in a certain date range, so the 13th or the 15th, we’re not getting a notification that actually has an invitation for a second dose, it’s more like a reminder, so we think it’s a glitch in the system," said Trina Berg, a teacher at Ironwood High School and President of the Peoria Education Association. She's hoping that by checking the Arizona Department of Health's website multiple times a day, she can receive her second dose soon, as COVID-19 continues to move through her school. "Since coming back from winter break we’ve sent home a few hundred kids," added Berg.
Berg said there is very little room for social distancing among students in her classroom, and despite having received the vaccine, she is apprehensive about being in the classroom.
"We know it’s not a magic bullet, but it’s definitely helping us, especially those of us that are knowingly exposed multiple times a week, multiple times a month from our students coming to school," said Berg.
Both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines' second doses are supposed to be scheduled from 21 to 42 days after the first dose.
According to the CDC: "The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose."
"Both doses are actually very similar. It’s just that the second one really boosts the immune system even further," Dr. David Engelthaler, Director of TGen North.