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South Salt Lake Journal

‘We are on our way’—GSD employees receive first dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Feb 01, 2021 03:14PM ● By Bill Hardesty

Multiple tables were set up to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to Granite School District employees at Hunter Junior High School. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

Jan. 15 was a big day for many Granite School District (GSD) teachers, staff and administrators because they received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

GSD, working with their partner Community Nursing Services (CNS), operated three vaccine locations. They were held at the district office, Hunter Junior High School and Churchill Junior High School. 

Those receiving the vaccine on this first round were individuals 55 years old or older. Other employees will receive the vaccine on upcoming Fridays.

For the first round, about 2,400 GSD employees received the first dose. At Hunter Junior, the line snaked through three halls while at the district offices, the line went outside the building to the parking lot. Even with the long lines, the clinics ran smoothly and everyone showed patience.

“I’m a communications director, but this week I was a vaccine coordinator,” Ben Horsley, communications director for GSD, said.

He also explained that all 9,000 GSD employees would have a chance to receive the vaccine. They do not expect 100% coverage. 

“Getting the vaccine is not a requirement. It is just an added level of protection for our employees,” Horsley said. 

GSD worked with Salt Lake County Health and other school districts to ensure the vaccine was available for their employees.

CNS

Brent Jones, President and COO of CNS explained that his organization has been giving vaccines to educators throughout the state. 

“By the end of Saturday, we will have given 14,500 shots,” Jones said.

On this Friday, they were working at eight schools in Salt Lake and Utah counties.

GSD and CNS have worked together on the “Say Boo to the Flu!” initiative, which provides no-cost or low-cost flu shots each September. Jones explained that CNS hires about 250 part-time nurses to do flu clinics.

“This year, our nurses said they wanted to stay on for the vaccine effort. They consider it their patriotic duty,” Jones said.

Reactions

Paulette McMillan, an administrator with the district, was emotional as she talked about how long they’ve been looking forward to this day.

“It brings us hope. And hope for the future. Hope we keep kids in school. And hope that our lives can move on,” McMillian said.

Other vaccine recipients voiced similar thoughts.

“I can teach the way my kids need me too,” Patty Tobin, a fifth-grade teacher at Copperview Elementary said. “I can soon be around my family and finally see my grandchildren in person.”

“I can safely serve my students in the environment they should be learning in,” said Kim Frandsen, an English and math resource teacher at Granite Connections.

Frandsen also mentioned the vaccine also reduces her anxiety over the virus.

“I am very grateful. I am completely impressed with the science. How quickly we got the vaccine in the first place,” Matthew Parola, a social studies teacher at Hunter Junior, said. “We turned the corner on it. We are on our way.”

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