Murfreesboro Schools vaccinate 800 faculty and staff, while 1,000 opt-out

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Posted at 6:59 PM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 21:43:42-05

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — It’s been all about choice for Murfreesboro Schools during the pandemic and on Friday, 800 staff members chose to get the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s less than half of the staff population in the district.

At Salem Elementary School, it was clear some had been waiting on this day for some time. Earlier in the week, educators became eligible in Rutherford County for the vaccine. By Friday, doses of the Moderna vaccine were shipped and ready for distribution.

Staff received documents detailing potential side-effects, but it did little to steal Janet Robinson’s excitement over what this vaccine could do to bring back a sense of normalcy. Robinson is a cafeteria manager who says she loves to see kids every day, knowing they’re getting the meals they need.

“Me not being able to touch them, high-fives or a hug, it’s killing me this year. It’s very stressful this year, but we’re making it,” Robinson said.

For the most part, people understand they do this because of the kids. What often goes overlooked, is how some staff have had to make sacrifices to avoid bringing the virus into their own homes. Susan Heiser is a physical education teacher and says for months she couldn’t visit her 89-year-old mother. A vaccine gets her one step closer to seeing her again.

“I just thought it would be a good chance to spend more time with family again, so I thought it would be a good time to do it,” Heiser said.

It was an easy choice for some, but a choice no less. There are 1,000 faculty and staff not here because they opted not to get vaccinated. Trey Duke is the new director of schools and says these are personal choices the district will respect.

Since August, parents have had the choice between in-person or virtual learning in the district. Duke says they’ve been vigilant about mask protocol and sanitizing surfaces. No matter if some staff choose not to be vaccinated, Duke says he’s confident students are still being taught in a safe environment.

“This is just that next layer to let families and our teachers know that being at school is safe and being at school is where we need to be,” Duke said.

If a staff member changes their mind and now wants the vaccine, Duke says they can contact the coordinated school health office and schedule a vaccination.