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South Salt Lake Journal

Granite School District holds first vaccination session for teachers in January

Jan 25, 2021 11:23AM ● By Heather Lawrence

Churchill Jr. High was set up as an employee vaccination clinic on Jan. 15, and lines wound through the building and out into the packed parking lot. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

Granite District held its first vaccination session for thousands of employees on Jan. 15. Events were held in three locations, and nearly 2,400 staff members were vaccinated. Per the health department’s recommendation, priority was based on age, with older employees receiving the vaccine first.   

“We offered the vaccine to nearly 3,200 employees, which brought the age down to 48,” said GSD communications director Ben Horsley. 

Three vaccination clinics were held simultaneously on Jan. 15 at Hunter Jr. High School, the Granite District Office and Churchill Jr. High. 

Skyline High cheer teacher Joey Kennedy got her vaccine at Churchill. “I’ve been at Skyline for 26 years and I love it and love the kids. Cheer isn’t a class you can do online—it’s physical and in person. I feel fine about getting the vaccine—if they gave it to all the doctors first it must be OK,” Kennedy said. 

Kennedy hopes vaccination efforts will help schools get back to a sense of normalcy. Students and staff who participate in extracurricular activities are tested every other week, and a highly-anticipated event can be shut down with little notice.   

Kennedy experienced that first hand—she planned to be at the regional cheer competition Jan. 15. But Skyline’s team had to pull out at the last minute when a team member tested positive and others had to quarantine. “It was rough,” Kennedy said. 

Another reason Kennedy got the vaccination was to protect her 81-year-old mother, whom she helps care for. Her mother has tried calling the health department to get an appointment for a vaccine, but they are full. “They tell her to just keep calling and trying back,” Kennedy said.

Laura Schmidt, a librarian at Fox Hills Elementary in Taylorsville, got her vaccination at the Hunter Jr. High clinic. 

“I’m excited about getting the vaccine. It’s just one more precaution, one more way to protect ourselves and be able to keep schools open. The numbers at our school have been excellent— very low. The kids have done really well,” Schmidt said. 

Schmidt was hoping the vaccines would come sooner based on all the talk about teachers and what a high priority they were. 

“It’s not as fast as expected, so I’m a little disappointed about that. But here we are. They’ve expedited it, and I’m appreciative of that,” Schmidt said. 

Vaccinations were also offered to staff from AMES charter school. AMES is not part of GSD, but is housed within and works with Cottonwood High School.  

Keith Homer of Midvale teaches Spanish and world languages at AMES. He came to the clinic and was worried when he saw the long line, but it moved along quickly. 

“We just had our board meeting and things were a little tense. We’ve been online the whole year, and so we’ve avoided any shutdowns. I think Cottonwood has had two. But some people want to go back to full in-person school,” Homer said. 

Homer shared his thoughts at the meeting and urged people to see things through. 

“It feels like we’re so close to getting a handle on this, and I think it’s the vaccination that changes the game board. Everything we’ve been doing is for a reason, and if we stop now we just throw all that out the window. We need to do the right thing and see this through,” Homer told those at the meeting. 

Homer trusts the vaccine in part because he has friends who are researchers, medical professionals and public health officials. He knows they’re just people getting up every day trying to do their jobs. 

“I have a lot of confidence and trust in the people I see working hard every day. They’re not doing this to be a part of some evil conspiracy. They get up every morning and go to their jobs just like we do. 

“Let’s all put our energy into making things the best they can be right now. That’s when we shine our most as people,” Homer said. 

Granite’s vaccine rollout was administered by Community Nursing Services. “It will be provided on an ongoing basis until all Granite employees have had the opportunity to receive both doses,” Horsley said. 

Horsley also said that people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are still welcome to receive the vaccine, as long as they are no longer in quarantine or isolation. Additional questions can be directed to GSD’s customer service email address, [email protected]