LONGVIEW, Tx. (KSLA) - Longview Independent School District is planning to begin vaccinating staff for the coronavirus in just weeks, according to Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox.
Wilcox said vaccinations are tentatively set to start the first week of February.
“Everybody knows that one of the keys to getting back to what the old normal was is this vaccine,” Wilcox said. “There is incredible stress involved, especially if one of our employees has underlying conditions, or if someone in their household does.”
The district is partnering with Aurora Concepts, an East Texas healthcare provider, who will bring a mobile unit to the administrative building and deliver doses of the Moderna vaccine.
“One of the positives of this is we’ve had great support from our students and that means their parents,” Wilcox added. “Our students have done really well in wearing their masks; we have a mask mandate in the district.”
Wilcox added that though the vaccine is not mandatory for staff members, he mentioned there is enthusiasm among employees about the prospect of receiving it, considering many are at increased risk of a potentially severe case of the virus.
“We have done a statistical analysis of our staff,” he said. “We have 275 who are 60 plus, from 50 to 59 we have 289 — but then you start adding in the health risk of cancer survivor, kidney disease, COPD, heart conditions, high blood pressure.”
Unfortunately, the tragic reality of the COVID-19 pandemic recently hit close to home in Longview. Wilcox noted that last Friday, the district lost a staff member of 15 years to the virus.
“We’re dealing with that here in the district,” he said.
Currently, the district is not planning to vaccinate students or parents but will continue to emphasize COVID-19 mitigation measures into the future.
“This is something that will pass, but it cannot pass soon enough,” Wilcox said. “We need our students in a classroom, face-to-face with our teachers and we need the cloud of COVID off of our teachers and our students.”
Currently, over 1.2 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine in Texas, while nearly 185 thousand others have received both required shots. Over 32 thousand Texans have lost their lives to the virus.