Teachers receive about half of first vaccine allotment for the Fort Smith Public School District

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,059 views 

About half of those receiving COVID-19 vaccinations as part of a service provided by Fort Smith Public Schools went to teachers, with three Fort Smith School Board members also receiving the district’s initial allotment of 400 vaccines.

As a part of the Phase 1B vaccination rollout, in partnership with local healthcare providers, FSPS offered up to 400 district staff members including substitutes, hourly and contract employees a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination Friday (Jan. 22) at Ben Geren Park Tornado Shelter.

About 200 of the participants at the event were FSPS teachers who work in a classroom. Another approximate 100 of the available vaccinations went to FSPS educators and employees who have direct student contact including counselors, media specialists, paraprofessionals, assistant principals, principals and substitutes. Approximately 40 employees of the district’s child nutrition department, facilities department (including building custodians), and transportation departments received the vaccines, as well as approximately 25 secretaries, social workers and SPICE after-school care providers, said Zena Featherston Marshall, FSPS executive director of communication and community partnerships.

“The remaining 35 participants represent employees and volunteers with administrative and governance responsibilities. Vaccines were administered to 10 district leaders including the superintendent, executive council members and three school board members,” Marshall said. “Several directors as well as other business office, human resources and contract personnel working in and around schools received the remaining doses. District administrators and school board members visit schools regularly.”

District staff interested in participating the vaccinations were told sign up using an online form sent to their email address to secure an appointment, in a message Jan. 20. The first 400 registrants were told they would receive an email from human resources and communications confirming the time they should arrive for their vaccinations.

“FSPS opened a form to receive names from all eligible staff groups. After 400 submissions, names were placed on a waiting list. Due to cancellations from the original 400, all on the waiting list were able to be accommodated,” Marshall said. “Fort Smith Public Schools depends upon all job classifications as integral parts of the education team.”

Superintendent Dr. Terry Morawski told school board members at the board’s regular board meeting Monday (Jan. 25) that he was happy with the well-run vaccination effort.”

“We were able to vaccinate about 20% of the population we want to vaccinate,” Morawski said.

Marshall said the district is aware of about 45 more vaccinations that have been provided to Phase 1B educators and education employees through area pharmacies.

“And we anticipate there are several more employees who have already accessed vaccines through different sources. We are working to determine how many additional vaccines that we will need from this point,” she said.

Morawski said the district hopes to schedule additional vaccination clinics as vaccines become available through local providers.

“Staff members who were not able to participate in the Jan. 22 event may wait for future district-organized vaccination clinics to receive their vaccination or schedule a vaccination appointment through a local provider,” Marshall said.