As vaccines roll out to teachers, some caution against a quick return to class

Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 3:30 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - For Montgomery County teacher Matthew Fentress, booking a time to get vaccinated has been no easy task.

“It was kinda like trying to buy tickets for a rock concert. They were in high demand,” he said with a laugh.

Fentress, and teachers like him, are part of Phase 1B rollout of the vaccine. That means many in our hometowns are now getting their shots.

That’s raised hopes of a rapid return to in-person learning, but Fentress says it’s not that simple.

“I’m not sure if we’re there,” he said.

Teachers we’ve spoken to have been split. Some, like Franklin County’s Theresa Trexler say once they get the vaccine, they’re comfortable with a full-time return.

“If we could continue hybrid until the teachers could get vaccinated that would be wonderful,” she said.

Others are taking a harder line.

President of the Lynchburg Education Association Karl Loos said in part via email that even as vaccines are being rolled out, “this will not change our position on the reopening of schools for any time in the near future, because it will be quite a while before staff and students have been vaccinated and for that vaccination to reach its full potency.”

What there does seem to be is enthusiasm among teachers to get the vaccine.

Loos says a recent survey shows about 50% of Lynchburg teachers want the vaccine. A survey in Roanoke County shows nearly 80%.

And Matthew Fentress says he’s seen plenty of interest.

“At the end of the day, everybody has to be kept safe,” he said.

Fentress says making sure that happens through a long, slow vaccination process, will be a delicate balance.

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