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Treasure Coast school districts want teachers to get COVID-19 vaccine

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Posted at 5:08 PM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 17:28:54-05

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — Some school districts in our area are now reaching out to Tallahassee and asking Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to make teachers a priority for the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I'm taking steps to at least, as far as I feel, being safe," said teacher Chris Waldrop.

For 18 years, Waldrop has been teaching students, but he says balancing in-person instruction and virtual learning has been his biggest challenge during the pandemic at St. Lucie West Centennial High School.

"There will be times when my physical class will have 26 students and then all of a sudden there's a quarantine sent out and like 10 of those kids are gone," Waldrop said.

St Lucie Schools Superintendent Wayne Gent says he expects more students to return to the classroom after winter break and is now having conversations about the COVID-19 vaccine and getting educators vaccinated.

"So, it is a priority for us to make sure when the next batch comes out that those that have direct contact with students are included," Gent said.

Gent says he will take the vaccine, but it would be voluntary for teachers and staff.

"There's a lot of distractions during the school day. A lot of things that occur and we just think this will be one less thing that needs to be worried about by our instructors, our teachers, our bus drivers, our cafeteria workers," Gent said.

In Martin County, the school board voted Tuesday night to send a formal request to DeSantis asking district employees with direct contact with students to be considered a priority to receive the vaccine.

The governor has said he expects the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to receive approval in the new year. And on Tuesday in West Palm Beach, DeSantis said it's expected to only require one dose.

"That makes it easier to do on a mass scale because you can go, and a school district can offer it to the teachers, one shot, and you don't have to worry about going back," DeSantis said.

Waldrop doesn't want to be pushed to the front of the line...but says he does want the vaccine.

"I hope people would understand the importance of getting the vaccine so that we can all be healthy and live somewhat of a normal life again," Waldrop said.