Teachers and school staff in region get vaccinations | coronavirus | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools

KINGSTON — Teachers and school staff in the region began receiving COVID-19 vaccinations Friday during a five-day period that ends Tuesday at the Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18 office building.

“It’s pretty exciting actually. I’m glad. With the Johnson & Johnson one-dose, you only have to do it once,” said Bonny Mannello, strength coach for the Dallas School District. “And we’re anxious to get the kids back to schools so that the teachers are safe.”

Dallas currently has a hybrid plan that mixes online and in-person instruction days and plans to start in-person instruction five days a week on March 22. Under the hybrid plan, students go to in-person classes twice a week.

Other schools in the region are also in the process of expanding the amount of in-person instruction.

“I’m happy to get the vaccine and get back in the classroom safely. The kids are getting back to school Monday. So I’m happy everything is getting rolling again,” said Patrick Hotchkiss, a substitute teacher for Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18.

Around 2,500 teachers and school staff in the region were scheduled to receive COVID-19 vaccinations during the five days, LIU 18 Executive Director Anthony Grieco said. The agency serves schools in Luzerne and Wyoming counties.

Last week, Gov. Tom Wolf announced the state was going to start a special program to vaccinate teachers and school staff at public and private schools for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the departments of education and health partnered with the 28 intermediate units in the state to establish vaccine sites. PEMA Director Randy Padfield said Friday morning that more than 6,500 doses have been administered at 20 IU clinics so far.

AMI Expeditionary Healthcare LLC and the Army National Guard are directing vaccination site operations. The program is using the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

The state is still in Phase 1A of its initial vaccine plan, offering the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to health care workers, people age 65 and over and younger people with high-risk medical conditions.

Educators were initially grouped in Phase 1B, along with child care workers, police, firefighters, grocery store workers and others considered to be essential workers.

LIU 18 serves the following school districts: Wilkes-Barre Area, Wyoming Valley West, Hanover Area, Greater Nanticoke Area, Northwest Area, Lake-Lehman, Dallas, Tunkhannock Area, Wyoming Area, Pittston Area, Crestwood and Hazleton Area.

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