LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - District leaders have indicated that students within Jefferson County Public Schools won’t likely return to in-person instruction until teachers are vaccinated.
New numbers from JCPS show that a majority of district employees are ready to roll up their sleeves.
In a Power Point presentation to be discussed Jan. 5 at the Jefferson County Board of Education meeting, the district published the results of a survey that asked teachers if they would get the coronavirus vaccine.
Of the 14,784 employees who responded, 12,884 (87 percent) requested the vaccine, with 1,900 choosing to decline.
JCPS spokeswoman Renee Murphy told WAVE 3 News approximately 500 district contractors also requested the vaccine, while close to 3,500 employees did not respond at all. Those who did not respond are counted as declining the vaccine.
“We’ve shared that information with the state and we’re encouraged by what we’re seeing,” Murphy said. “we know that the vaccine is a pathway for us to get back into schools.”
Emilie Blanton, an English teacher at Southern High School, said she was among those who said “yes” to the vaccine.
“I absolutely responded and said I wanted to take the vaccination,” she said. “We’re getting vaccinated to keep them as safe as possible, because one of the things that we have to recognize is that kids not only die from this; they have long-lasting effects for the rest of their lives.”
Blanton is also a representative for the Jefferson County Teacher’s Association. She considers her choice to get the vaccine a privilege and said she knows other teachers within her union who will not take the vaccine.
“I understand that I come from a place of privilege and I’m capable of saying yes to the vaccine,” she said. “I don’t have any other health indicators that would make me not take the vaccine. We do have people who have some type of allergy or reason why they can’t take the vaccine.”
Natalie Rashad, a math teacher at the W.E.B. DuBois Academy, said she was among those who declined the vaccine for medical reasons.
“I have a preexisting condition so, at this point, the vaccine is so new they don’t really have enough data about what possible side effects or interactions there might be,” she said. “So I personally don’t feel that comfortable with it.”
If students return in-person this semester, Rashad hopes she will be able to continue to teach virtually to those who choose the virtual academy option. Currently, 41 percent of students within JCPS have indicated they want to attend class through a virtual academy as opposed to in person.
JCPS employees who elect to take the vaccine will receive their shots at Louisville’s drive-through site at Broadbent Arena. District leaders say some teachers could receive their first dose by the first week of February.