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School districts adjust schedules due to staff’s potential side effects from COVID-19 vaccine

As school teachers and staff get vaccinated against COVID-19, school districts have had to adjust their schedules to account for any potential side effects from the vaccines themselves.
Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 2:44 PM EST
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FREELAND, Mich. (WJRT) - As school teachers and staff get vaccinated against COVID-19, school districts have had to adjust their schedules to account for any potential side effects from the vaccines themselves.

An example of this came on Wednesday when Farwell Area Schools in Clare County closed for the day to allow its staff to rest and recover after receiving the second dose of the vaccine earlier this week. In a post on social media, the district said that the second dose can sometimes cause some “unpleasant symptoms.”

Farwell Area Schools will be closed tomorrow, February 10, 2021. On Monday, many FAS staff members were able to...

Posted by Farwell Area Schools on Tuesday, February 9, 2021

In Mid-Michigan, another school district is taking a more proactive approach and has already adjusted its schedule to account for any widespread side effects after its staff gets the second dose.

Freeland Community School District announced Tuesday that it will have its in-person learners go to remote learning on February 17 and 18. This is because 80% of the district’s staff members will be receiving the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on February 16.

“The Freeland schools put a lot of thought into this,” said Freeland superintendent Matt Cairy. “We don’t take losing any in-person days lightly. We believe that this is the best opportunity we had to educate children and to serve our community as we always want to do.”

Cairy said that the district opted to make this change after learning about some of the side effects from the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We’ve been told that there are some after effects that happen to a significant number of people who get the second dose,” he said. “And we have such a challenge getting subs for our bus drivers and teachers that we want to make sure that we were able to have school for children.”

The district did not want to wait and see how many teachers and staff may suffer from any side effects before making this decision.

“We’ve elected to instead of having to call parents at 5:30 in the morning on Wednesday, if we have a large number of bus drivers or teachers who were not able to attend work due to the after effects of the vaccine, we’re going to remote learning days,” Cairy explained.

Cairy said the school district did consult with the Saginaw County Health Department but did make this decision on their own. He said that the district is grateful to receive the vaccine but do wish that they could have had teachers do it in phases and not all at once.

“This is just the consequence of that,” he said. “I think the community has been supportive of it, knowing that this is something we’ve had to do. We would have rather done it in phases and allowed for us to have continued in-person learning during this time.”

The remote learning days will be similar to how it was for families back in November when in-person learning was halted in the state.

Cairy said that if going through this is the price to pay to make sure that in-person learning can continue, then it’s worth it.

“We’re supportive of anything that keeps kids in school and provides a safe environment for our staff and students, therefore we’re very proud,” Cairy said. “We think it’s very positive our staff has been vaccinated and are doing everything we can to support the vaccination efforts.”

Freeland Parents - On Tuesday, February 16, 2021, Freeland Schools will be sending over 150 staff members to get their...

Posted by Freeland Community School District on Tuesday, February 9, 2021

ABC12 did discuss this matter with Dr. Delicia Pruitt at the Saginaw County Health Department. Dr. Pruitt said that having these schools make these changes should not be a cause of concern for anyone looking into getting the vaccine.

“I think people shouldn’t be concerned about hearing this news,” Dr. Pruitt said. “We’ve been trying very hard to get this information out. These shots are 95% effective but they do have some side effects.”

Pruitt said some common temporary side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine are injection site pain and swelling, tiredness, headache, fever, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, nausea, feeling unwell or swollen lymph nodes.

She said these side effects are more common with the second dose of the vaccine but the overall benefit of the vaccine itself far outweighs these temporary side effects.

“The risk of the side effect is not as bad as having the worst case scenario with the disease so you balance the risk versus benefit,” Dr. Pruitt said. “Then you decide should I do it or not. We have so many people dying right now of COVID-19 or getting severely ill with long-term effects. And because of that, we want to say 24-48 hours of some symptoms is not as bad as actually having an actual disease.”

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