FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — Officials with Fulton County Schools are targeting mid-April to have all willing staff members vaccinated with both doses of the COVID-19 vaccination.

The district is planning two six-day sessions, one for each round of doses, beginning in March for all full and part-time staff. Those groups includes teachers, substitutes, charter school staff and community coaches

“Now that a timeline has been set by the governor, Fulton County Schools will work with the Fulton County Board of Health for district personnel to get vaccinated,” said Brian Noyes, chief communications officer for the school district. “We are prepared and resourced to meet the challenges of the effort.”

Fulton County sees improvement in latest COVID health numbers

Last week, Gov. Brian Kemp announced phase 1B of the state’s vaccination rollout will begin March 8, allowing school-based staff to participate.

The timeline was accelerated after results of a statewide survey showed only 45 percent of eligible teachers were willing to get the COVID vaccination. Based on the survey, state officials determined not as many doses would be needed to meet the demands in Phase 1B.

Noyes said internal polling shows Fulton Schools staff are more willing to accept the vaccinations than the statewide poll.

“[We have been] surveying staff interest in receiving the vaccine,” Noyes said. “The survey is still open for employee responses, but initial numbers indicate more than 60 percent would like to receive the vaccine.”

Earlier this year, Fulton Schools held a vaccination clinic with Fulton County Public Health to provide COVID vaccination to all staff members over the age of 65 and their eligible spouses during Phase 1A of the rollout.

The events were “hugely successful” according to district leaders, and more than 500 school staff received both vaccinations.

“Additionally, it validated the playbook developed by district staff in partnership with [public health partners] that can now be scaled up to provide the vaccine to our remaining 11,000-plus employees who want it,” said Ron Wade, chief talent officer for Fulton Schools.

School leaders tapped to help devise vaccination plan

Noyes said he is encouraged with the number of staff willing to get the vaccination when it becomes available, but understands it is a decision each person must make.

“Fulton Schools is providing the voluntary vaccine opportunity, as well as employee information sessions with medical professionals, to encourage participation,” Noyes said. “[However] there are no plans to make vaccinations mandatory.”

Plans are to have eligible staff get their first dose the week of March 22-27, followed by the second shot during the week of April 12-17. The clinic will be held at Mercedes Benz Stadium and has a capacity to vaccinate 1,350 people a day.

Candy Waylock is an award winning education reporter who has covered all things education for Appen Media over the past 20 years. She is an Alpharetta resident.

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