OLDHAM COUNTY, Ky. — Educators and staff in Oldham County are rolling up their sleeves to receive the coronavirus vaccine, a critical step toward fulling reopening schools.
Receiving the vaccine is a monumental moment, and preschool teacher Karen Putlak says she has been counting down the days.
“I just feel honored that I was chosen to be vaccinated, one of the first ones, because just being back with the families and being back with their children,“explains Putlak.
On Tuesday, Putlak went back to in-person teaching after a delayed return because of high COVID-19 numbers, along with many of her colleagues in Oldham County schools.
She says despite this year’s challenges, she wanted to be among the 1,643 district employees who requested a vaccine.
“It's so important to have the kids in the building with us to learn. Online is great, but it’s not near as good as in-person. I miss the connection I get with the children and their families,” says Putlak.
The vaccination clinics held this week in partnership with Oldham County Health Department, are the first round of vaccinations for the school system’s employees.
Around 300 staff including substitute teacher Kristen DeLuca, are scheduled to be vaccinated for each day.
“I was excited. I feel like this is a really good step in the right direction to keep our kids in school and getting them learning where they need to be and getting them focused,” says DeLuca.
The mother of two says receiving the vaccine was a no brainer. DeLuca’s 14-year-old son Connor was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy when he was just two-years-old.
“Coronavirus is something that could really impact him. He has some respiratory issues and it could really impact him strongly. So as a mom it was really important for me to get this vaccine as a first step,” explains DeLuca.
Oldham County superintendent Greg Schultz says getting his staff the shots is the only clear path.
“We know this shot is not the end all be all, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. The more people that can get vaccinated the better off this country will be,” explains Schultz.
He is hopeful the vaccinations will help relieve staffing issues including a lack of substitute teachers.
“It really is about a whole team effort. It’s about everyone pulling together as much as possible and we need people to continue to pull together and unite and stop the division,” says Schultz.
For now, educators hope, as many Kentuckians do, that this is the step towards returning to some sets of normalcy.
“To me, this is going to open a lot of doors. I just hope everyone is wearing their masks and getting vaccine so maybe we can get back to a normal,” explains Putlak.
Staff members will get their follow up shot on Feb. 18.