SHELBY COUNTY, Ky.— Shelby County Public Schools are teaming up with Walmart to provide hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines for their teachers and staff. 

The end of the work week feels like a new chapter for Shelby County Public Schools teachers and staff. On Friday, around 200 staff members received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine including Wright Elementary teacher Tracy Gayle. 

“They miss the ball games, the plays and the rehearsals, all those other things that make school. So I’m excited to get this and to keep our community safe,” Gayle said. 

Gayle, who’s been an educator for nearly three decades, has been operating in a hybrid model that brings together in person and virtual learning.

The mother of four said she’s learned a lot during the pandemic, and feels honored to be given the opportunity to be vaccinated.

“I have grown so much this year because I want to reach my kids and build that community. So I have grown in technology, I have grown in reaching my kids in different ways,” Gayle said.

Moderna shots were administered by Walmart Pharmacy employees, and recipients like Simpsonville Elementary Principal Adam Hicks were excited to get the chance to receive the shot.

“This is just an extra safety blanket next step, to ensure that we’re providing great education for our kids in a safe and healthy way,” explained Hicks.

Rolling up his sleeve today was about keeping himself and others safe in the future.

“Obviously, all kids need consistency, but when you’re dealing with kids as young as five- years-old we’ve got to take steps to make sure that we’re making the world as normal for them as possible," Hicks said.

Sherry Allen, a registered nurse and health science teacher at Shelby County Area Technology Center, is teaching her students about how the world of nursing is at work in their everyday lives.

The shot serves as an important reminder about the fight against a pandemic that has claimed nearly 4,000 Kentuckians.

“We know from experience that vaccines do work and they can actually eradicate some diseases. So we just want to do our part and get our vaccines to show students how important it is,” Allen said.

Though this is voluntary, education leaders hope this makes more parents comfortable sending their kids to school while ensuring a safe environment for staff.

“This shot and having the vaccine available to all of our staff is just going to help I think our whole state and our world get back to what is  normal as soon as we possibly can,” said Dr. Sally Sugg, Superintendent at Shelby County Public Schools. 

Since the days ahead are uncertain, Dr. Sugg and Kentuckians alike are looking forward to when the pandemic is in the rear view. 

“We are not taking for granted ever again just when we can get the kids around use give them a hug, a high five, and send them off on a Friday afternoon,” explains Dr. Sugg.

Staff members will get their follow up shot on March 3.