More than 850 county school personnel got their first coronavirus vaccination Friday in Bowling Green.
Bowling Green Education Association President Jeff Nichols said members would have liked to have a longer buffer between the first dose of the vaccine and the return to school next week.
“But everything we’ve heard has been positive and we know that we have tremendous protocols in place,” Nichols said. “I think in a perfect world, everybody would have liked to have seen that happen but we’re also very understanding of the fact that we will be protected, and the protocols are in place.
“It’s going to be good to have the kids back.”
Administration and teachers have worked hard to make sure everyone is as safe as can be.
“This is a great step,” Nichols said. “I think there are a lot of teachers that still have some apprehension but also still are excited about getting the kids back.”
Bowling Green students in grades K-5 will return to the classroom on Tuesday in a hybrid teaching model. The A Group at the high school will be in session Monday.
Only the junior class will be in the high school on Tuesday to allow for social distancing while they take the ACT test.
The A Group will return Wednesday and B Group will attend Thursday and Friday.
Miranda Scholl said she feels safe returning to Bowling Green High School Monday.
“I definitely feel safe anyway because I feel like our school has done a good job of making the protocols and everything in place,” she said.
As a special education teacher, Scholl has been seeing students in the building for months “and I feel very confident in our safety protocols. Everyone will be kept safe.
“But the vaccine definitely helps,” she said.
People entered Bowling Green Middle School Friday and checked in. They waited until their number was called to enter the school cafeteria, then went into the gym to sit and wait 15 minutes.
Each person had a consent form with a bar code that was scanned in order to make sure they got the right drug, said Todd Leopold, director of pharmacy at Wood County Hospital.
Having each person with their own bar code ensures they will get the same vaccine the second time around.
Pfizer was being used Friday in Bowling Green, where staff from Elmwood, North Baltimore, Otsego and the Wood County Educational Service Center got their shot along with BGCS staff.
The second dose will be administered March 12, again at the middle school.
Epi pens were available in case there were any severe reactions, but as of noon Friday none were needed. EMS staff also were on site as were multiple nurses.
“We make sure that everyone who walks out of here is OK,” Leopold said.
He said the goal was to vaccinate 853 people. After 26 clinics done by the hospital, not one dose has been wasted, he said.
“And I have no intention of wasting any doses in the future. There’s too many people that need the vaccine,” Leopold said.
The vaccination “adds an extra layer of protection against the measures we’re already putting into place,” said Carla Carter, a fourth-grade teacher at Elmwood Local Schools, which has had students in the classroom full time since August.
“I definitely think it makes me feel safer,” she said of the vaccination.
BGHS secretary Michelle Mintz said she was not sure if she would have returned in August with students without the vaccine, but she would return now with or without the shot.
“I was a little worried at that time, but this is a good day. I trust in science and I’m happy. I want those kids back.”
Alexa Milks, a secretary at Kenwood Elementary, gave an adamant “no” to the question of whether she would have returned to work in August without the vaccine.
“I think we know more now. I feel more confident in what I’m doing … and we know more about the virus now,” Milks said.
She got the vaccine in order to protect the kids as well as herself and her family, she said.
Megan Pierce, a high school science teacher at Otsego, said she got the vaccine because it was available.
“Honestly, when it comes down to it, one more level of protection is never going to be a bad thing, so the fact that we were given the opportunity to have it just means it will be less of an impact if we were to contract it,” Pierce said.
Otsego Superintendent Adam Koch said even though his staff has been in the buildings since August, he thinks they will feel safer after getting their shot.
“I think they’re overwhelmingly excited to have this opportunity. They signed up very quickly and I think they’re happy to be getting it,” he said.
Robin Reynolds has been teaching her seventh-grade math class at Elmwood class since August.
“We’ve been following all the protocols and if there is one more thing we could do, then that would be a good choice,” she said.
Reynolds said she would have started in August without the vaccine. Since then, there have been some concerns with student quarantines peaked, but in the long run, it was the best choice to be in five days a week for the kids.
“That’s what we’re here for, what’s best for kids,” Reynolds said.
Toby Snow, director of transportation in Bowling Green, said while his drivers have been working through the summer, some are going to feel safer once they get the vaccine.
Masks have been required of both drivers and passengers and the only change Monday is there will be more kids on the bus, he said.
Wood County Hospital President Stan Korducki said he was pleased with the operations at the middle school Friday.
“It is one of the great examples of the Wood County and Bowling Green community,” he said about the number of people who showed up to help.
There were volunteers, 40-50 hospital staff, EMS personnel and health department staff, Korducki said.
“What I feel so proud about in our county is the people willing to do good things especially in a time of need,” he said.
Milks could barely contain her excitement about starting back Tuesday.
“I miss those kiddos,” she said. “The school is so quiet without them. It’s eerie.”
Penta Career Center and Perrysburg Schools also had vaccination sites on Friday, for a total of 2,850.