Now fully vaccinated, teachers feel more secure



COVID-19 vaccination cards reflect when teachers got their vaccines.

Anna Henning, Editor in Chief

On February 8, Colorado made the COVID-19 vaccine available to teachers, in an effort to get schools opened fully sooner. Since March, about half of public schools in the United States have shifted to Phase 4, full in-person learning. Fossil Ridge High School is among these schools, and for most teachers, getting the vaccine has been a vital part of returning to in-person classes. At Fossil, staff members feel much safer now that they have the vaccine, and the environment among staff is a lot more laid-back now.

Compared to the average high school student, teachers are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. In the US, the average age of teachers is 42. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teachers are twice as likely to get COVID-19 compared to 5-17 year olds, fifteen times more likely to become hospitalized, and 130 times more likely to die from the disease. 

When considering returning to school for hybrid or in-person learning, many teachers were concerned about their health and safety. But now, eighty percent of teachers and school staff have at least one shot, and nearly ten million have been vaccinated in the US. Many teachers did not want to return to work unless they had their shot, and feel better about being at school now that they are fully vaccinated. 

Most teachers were nervous to return to school when Phase 4 learning was announced for the fourth quarter of school, Kristen Rust among them. “I was mostly nervous because I have friends that were scared,” Rust stated. “I wasn’t as worried about my own personal safety, but I felt like it was irresponsible for them to send us back before teachers were vaccinated.”

Now, weeks later after most have gotten their second shot, teachers are regaining their confidence. Darren Marshall, a teacher at Fossil, has been fully vaccinated for three to four weeks now, and he feels more comfortable being at school. Marshall’s wife is a nurse, and what he heard about the research that went into creating the vaccine made Marshall want to get it as soon as possible. Additionally, he has some health risks that made him worried about getting COVID-19.

“I’m a heart patient, so complications can arise from that quickly with a seriously infecting disease like COVID. I think it’s better to have [the vaccine] than not to have it,” Marshall explained. He is not the only teacher at Fossil with pre-existing conditions, so having the vaccine has undoubtedly saved teachers from extra health complications. 

Kim Salz was relieved to have her first shot before returning to Phase 4 learning. She decided to get the vaccine because, “I trust our science and I trust our healthcare professionals. I think it’s the best thing to do not only for me but for the community and everyone else.” From what she has observed, Salz believes most teachers had the same reaction she had to being able to get the vaccine. Together, they are feeling better about being around each other, in and out of school, because of being vaccinated. 

“In our office areas there’s a mutual feeling of comfort and ease. Everyone I hang out with, I know they’re all vaccinated. Overall, I feel things have improved. The overall staff morale is higher. The year’s kind of gotten back to a sort of normal place, and my colleagues aren’t scared at work anymore,” said Lisa Plank. 

While there is still a great deal of caution surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines, most teachers at Fossil trust the science behind them, and the process of creating them. They feel that Fossil is safer because of these vaccines, and they are thankful to have them.