Nearly 100 Hutchinson teachers get COVID-19 vaccine before some students return to classroom

Published: Jan. 8, 2021 at 9:06 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The State of Kansas this week released its five-phase plan to vaccinate the people of the state against COVID-19. We are currently in Phase One of the plan, where healthcare-associated workers and residents of long-term care facilities are receiving the shot. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said Phase One of the vaccine rollout plan will likely wrap up by the end of January, but Reno County has already vaccinated some people under Phase Two, including teachers, who are at a high-risk due to the nature of their jobs. The Reno County Health Department on Tuesday (Jan. 5) vaccinated nearly 100 teachers with Hutchinson Public Schools.

Hutchinson middle school teacher Brett Arndt was among those teachers who got the shot.

“When the opportunity arose, I just kind of thought, ‘why not?’” Arndt said. “It’s for my health and other people’s health.”

The vaccinations come as the Hutchinson school district prepares for some students to return to classrooms in a hybrid model. Reno County is one of the first in Kansas to begin vaccinating teachers. It’s part of an effort to minimize the risk of returning to the classroom next month. For now, only high-risk teachers, or teachers with high-risk students can get the vaccine.

“I definitely feel a lot safer knowing that I’ve been vaccinated and I do feel better knowing that my students will be coming back and I’m not as much of a risk to them,” Arndt said. “Obviously, we still have to wear masks, but I do feel a lot better knowing that I have been vaccinated.”

Reno County Health Officer Karen Hammersmith said she hopes the county can soon start to vaccinate people in the county who are over the age of 65. That population is also included in Phase Two of the state’s vaccine rollout plan.

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