Teachers at Exton Elementary are preparing for their first round of vaccinations this month, but some teachers are still on the fence.
According to Jim Scanlon, the superintendent of the West Chester School District, teachers and faculty members received a survey via email on whether they would want the vaccine or not. The email also included the facts about the vaccine and further information on what to expect after they receive it.
The vast majority voted yes on the survey, but some teachers, like first grade teacher Melissa Wright, wanted more information.
“I wanted to know why there wasn’t a maybe option,” Wright said. “Most likely I will get it, but I do not want to fully commit right now because I want to see what my coworkers say first.”
Wright said some faculty felt they were being rushed into a decision based on the survey. When teachers asked the HR team and superintendent why this was not an option, they made it clear if anyone was not comfortable with the vaccine they could reach out to their superiors privately. However, the decision is not that simple for the entire staff.
“I understand why she was hesitant because I do have worries about what happens after you get the first dose,” said Jean Sam, a third grade teacher at the school. “But based on my circumstances, it’s the best option for me.”
Sam was on the fence about the vaccine at first for many reasons. She has underlying health conditions that have affected her heart for years. Also, over the holidays Sam lost both her brother and mother to the virus. Sam says her recent losses have contributed to her decision to get the vaccine, but she does worry that the school may not be fully on the side of the teachers.
“I just worry about what they plan to do once more kids are allowed into the classroom,” Sam said. “Right now, (superintendent) Scanlon has class sizes at a capacity of 18. But the school is trying to fit in another desk the next day for a returning student and it just makes me think of everyone’s safety, including my own.”
The school told its staff they can choose to receive the vaccine from an outside medical professional if they do not want to get it at the school. But neither the school nor the union has said anything about how information regarding teachers’ vaccination status will be shared with parents and students. The superintendent and union president did ensure teachers that their jobs will not be in jeopardy if they are not vaccinated.