On Tuesday, March 9, the Cheshire School District collaborated with the Chesprocott Health District to achieve a lofty goal — to vaccinate roughly all of the District’s 400 teachers against the COVID-19 virus.
By mid-afternoon, they had completed the first round of vaccinations.
Throughout the morning, teachers lined up outside the Cheshire Community Pool in order to receive their first line of defense against the virus.
“We have had such a great collaboration between Chesprocott and the CPS staff, it’s been really amazing,” said Chesprocott’s Public Health Specialist Kate Glendon. “We have the school nurses working in tandem with our MRC volunteers, and it’s a really great effort.”
If attendees weren’t aware that a vaccine clinic was going on, they might have mistaken it for a birthday party, given the music blaring from loudspeakers and the shiny star balloons lining the vaccine stations.
“We want this to be more of a celebration of life,” said Superintendent of Schools Jeff Solan. “We want our teachers to feel confident and relaxed that there is nothing to be afraid of and that this vaccine is safe.”
The teachers were all given the first dose of the Moderna vaccine, which comes in a two-dose protocol with the second dose administered approximately 28 days after the first. Chesprocott will hold a second clinic at the end of the month to accommodate for the second doses.
Teachers arrived by school, with the first group coming from Cheshire High School, and the rest of the Districts educators following suit afterwards.
“I am, personally, so happy we were able to get this done,” mentioned Solan. “This is the next step in making sure our families feel comfortable sending their children to school. We’ve been really fortunate to have had our kids in school pretty much since the beginning, with the exception of the high school and that’s more than a lot of districts can say.”
Michelle Kochiss, who teaches grades 10 and 11 at Cheshire High School, was eager to get her vaccination and to be part of a bigger effort to combat the disease.
“It feels really amazing to be vaccinated,” she stated. “I had relatives who fell in the higher-risk categories, so I understand how important it is to get this done. I wanted to wait to get it done with my peers because it felt right, and I’m glad I did.”
Vice Principal of Dodd MIddle School, John Perisino, also received his vaccination on Tuesday, and noted that he felt “very fortunate to get the opportunity to receive the vaccine” along with his colleagues.
In order to offset the potential impact that could arise due to some teachers experiencing reactions to the vaccine, which could force some of them to call out sick, Solan and the District have staggered the vaccinations for their substitute teachers. He is even willing to step in when needed.
“It’s all hands on deck here,” he said. “We are dedicated to having our students in school, in person, as much as possible and this is the step to get us there.”