Twin Rivers teachers, staff get vaccinated in statewide effort to return to in-person learning

Coronavirus

RIO LINDA, Calif. (KTXL) — Hundreds of school teachers and staff showed up at Rio Linda High School Friday to get their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The clinic, sponsored in part by the Twin Rivers Unified School District, is part of a statewide effort to vaccinate 320,000 teachers and other school staff like custodians, food workers and bus drivers.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced last week that at least 10% of the state’s vaccines would go to education workers starting in March, which translates to roughly 75,000 dedicated doses a week.

Staff said it is a concrete step toward in-person learning but was symbolic as well.

“I’m so excited. I feel like a kid in a candy store because I feel like it’s the first step to getting back to normal or some semblance of normalcy,” said Sandra Crenshaw, who teaches seventh grade.

It was a collective effort by many Twin Rivers staff members.

“Three of us are actually getting vaccinated today, and then a couple of us this weekend,” said Diana Yactayl, an office administrator and classroom aide. “So we’re slowly getting vaccinated just to do our own part.”

This experience is typical of dozens of vaccination clinics in the region that are now catering to school staff.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said vaccinating school staff is not required for getting schools open again, as long as masks and social distancing measures are in place. 

But teachers unions and many districts are wary of opening without the fullest safety measures in place.

Twin Rivers officials said months of work have been done in classrooms and air filtration systems to prevent the spread of a COVID-19 outbreak.

“This is just one of those added pieces that helps us open and make sure that our teachers feel safe when we do return,” explained Lori Grace, associate superintendent at Twin Rivers Unified School District.

There is some urgency involved: After you get your first shot, you have to wait two to four weeks to get your second dose, depending on the vaccine. That further shortens the school year as far as in-person learning goes.

“I’m just very hopeful that we can still open things up before the end of the year. That would be nice,” Crenshaw said.

Others are more skeptical, like American River College instructor Anne Diu. Though Diu said she was glad to get her shot, she added the end of the calendar year may be out of reach.

“I don’t think so this fall. It might not be until spring ’22,” she told FOX40.

In the meantime, clinics will be more common in the coming weeks.

Despite the increase in teacher vaccinations, it is still up to individual school districts to determine whether in-person learning will start. The Twin Rivers district will discuss their options next week.

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