116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa City schools completed the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations for 2,000 teachers and staff Friday, and Cedar Rapids schools will complete the first round of vaccinations by the end of next week after months of uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic.
COVID vaccinations for K-12 teachers, school staff and child care workers in Iowa began Feb. 1, under the state's Phase 1B.
School nurses began receiving the vaccine at the end of January during Phase 1A, which prioritized health care workers.
Cedar Rapids Superintendent Noreen Bush said getting teachers and school staff vaccinated has been an 'accelerated process sooner than we thought.”
The Cedar Rapids Community School District has given over 1,500 vaccines to staff, including a second dose to nursing staff.
All Iowa City schools staff members who chose to be vaccinated will have received their first dose as of Friday.
Iowa City Superintendent Matt Degner said all Iowa City staff who wish to be vaccinated will receive their second dose by March 26.
Iowa City included student teachers in its vaccination process, Iowa City schools chief operating officer Chace Ramey said during a school board meeting last month.
Cedar Rapids student teachers were not included in the vaccination
Linn County Public Health allocated doses for district-hired building staff only, district communications director Colleen Scholer said in an email.
Student teachers should be registered with Linn County Public Health through their college or university, she said.
Currently, COVID-19 vaccines available to the public have not been approved for children.
Bush said that, at this point in time, students are not required to get the COVID-19 vaccine to attend school.
The district will follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Pediatric Association, Bush said during a school board meeting this week.
Vaccinating teachers began just two weeks before school districts were required to offer a 100 percent in-person learning option to all students beginning Feb. 15.
Iowa City schools have struggled with maintaining 6 feet of distance between students with twice as many in the classroom and have updated their health and safety guidelines.
Students are encouraged, but not required, to wear two masks. Passing time in the hallways is staggered to have as few students in the hallways as possible, Degner said.
'We've had a lot of smiles in the building, even though we've navigated a lot of emotion and concern bringing more folks in,” Degner said. 'Hopefully with increased vaccine distribution, we can continue in a smooth fashion.”
As of Friday morning, 80 students and six staff were currently positive for COVID-19 in Iowa City schools, and 235 students and 13 staff were in quarantine because of exposure to the virus.
In Cedar Rapids, seven students and three staff were currently positive for COVID-19, and 57 students and 12 staff were in quarantine.
Brady Shutt, president of the Iowa City teachers union - the Iowa City Education Association - and a social studies teacher at Liberty High School, said teachers 'love” having students in the classroom.
'You just have to be intentional and careful. We're still in a pandemic,” Shutt said during a school board meeting this week.
'We love being with kids on site and that energy and their smiles,” he said, adding there's an underlying anxiety about being with more people than 'they've been around in several months.”
'You have to be very, very careful,” he said.
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