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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

‘A little bit of peace of mind’: Hays County educators receive COVID-19 vaccines


San Marcos Academy world geography teacher Harvey Manning (left) receives his COVID-19 vaccine from Eliza Herrera LVN (right), Friday, March 11, 2021, at San Marcos High School.

In the hallways of Rattler Stadium, Harvey Manning stood patiently in line with teachers and staff from schools all over Hays County. With paperwork in hand, he stepped up to receive his first dose of the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine.
“I think it’s fantastic,” says Manning, a social studies teacher at San Marcos Baptist Academy, after receiving his vaccine.
To educators like Manning, expanding vaccine eligibility to teachers is a big step toward getting students back in the classroom and allowing educators to teach course material in a way each student can comprehend.
“Last year when the schools closed down for the spring, you could tell that [Zoom] wasn’t the answer for a lot of kids,” Manning says.
On March 3, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) received a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services directing states to expand vaccine eligibility to include persons working in school and childcare facilities.
All education personnel working in pre-primary, primary and secondary schools, as well as Head Start and Early Head Start programs, are eligible to receive the vaccine. Eligibility also includes bus drivers and those who work for or are licensed child care providers, including center-based and family care providers.
Through a partnership with Hays County, the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District (SMCISD) acquired 500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Initially, San Marcos High School was set to administer vaccines on March 4 to individuals who met the DSHS criteria. However, with the expansion of vaccine eligibility to school and child care workers, the district jumped at the opportunity to accommodate them.
“Honestly, it was perfect timing,” says San Marcos CISD Executive Director of Communications Andrew Fernandez. “[DSHS] made the announcement that school employees were now eligible to receive the vaccine and [did] not have to wait for their place on the 1A [and] 1B categories. We immediately got with the county and made sure they were good with it.”
Doug Wozniak, San Marcos CISD director of transportation and school safety, says the district has since acquired an additional 500 vaccinations from the state.
Wozniak says the district has moved on to vaccinating education staff outside of the district including substitute and student teachers, local daycare workers as well as teachers and staff from San Marcos Baptist Academy.
“After this week, we should have a really large portion of Hays County educators done with their first-round or done with both rounds [of the vaccine],” Wozniak says.
After two weeks of clinics, San Marcos CISD is confident every employee who wants a vaccine will have the opportunity to get it.
“Our number that we’re estimating is gonna be about 800 out of 1,200 [district employees], so maybe 70% of our staff has either had one or two rounds,” Wozniak says.
Wozniak adds San Marcos High School will continue to serve as a vaccination site for the general public who meet DSHS qualifications once educators and staff are sufficiently vaccinated.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, teachers around the country, including those at San Marcos CISD, stepped up to help their students and families with drive-by parades, distributing technological resources and providing meals on top of their normal teaching duties.
“You know, I think if this school year taught us anything, it’s that teachers love their jobs,” Fernandez says. “They obviously don’t do it for the money. They do it for the love of preparing young adults for the future and not even a barrier like a pandemic can get in the way of a teacher.”
Teachers and staff throughout Hays County have also helped set up vaccination clinics, check people in, pass out and collect paperwork and monitor individuals during their post-vaccine, 15-minute wait time.
Dyanna Eastwood, San Marcos CISD head nurse, along with her team of nurses and several volunteer emergency medical technicians, worked to vaccinate hundreds of education personnel who visited San Marcos High School to receive a vaccine.
“I just think this community, this school district, these teachers — they’re just amazing; they’ve reached out more than I’ve seen any other district,” Eastwood says. “I’m so proud to be here and be a part of this; it’s been amazing.”
While schools have established safety precautions in an effort to keep employees, staff and students healthy, Wozniak says the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 is enough to make the education community anxious.
“Teachers and staff still have that constant, you know, fear [that] if they get [COVID-19], what [that will] mean for them and their families. So, [getting vaccinated] offers them a little bit of peace of mind and kind of that protection to carry on through the remainder of the year and try to get through this,” Wozniak says.
Until the virus is gone, nothing can completely calm the fear of COVID-19 for some educators. However, Fernandez believes vaccination is just a small token of appreciation for all the hard work educators and staff have put in on the front lines.
“There were some trials and tribulations along the way, but [the pandemic] didn’t stop them,” Fernandez says. “It didn’t stop our teachers from going inside their classrooms, doing the best they can every single day to educate our young individuals, and we cannot thank them enough.”

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  • People fill out the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination consent form, Friday, March 11, 2021, at San Marcos High School.

  • People sit after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, Friday, March 11, 2021, at San Marcos High School.

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