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Local school districts wait chance to vaccinate public educators

Inadequate staffing levels last week at Clay County Schools forced an announcement that students will be transitioning to virtual learning and Swain County Schools needed an additional week of virtual learning. The staffing levels were considered within both systems due to positive COVID19 cases or quarantines due to exposures. 

During the January board meeting of the Macon County Board of Education, Macon County Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin told members of the Macon County Board of Education that Macon County schools are at risk of having to do the same thing. 

“One of the concerns we have because of the current numbers are at Macon Middle School and MVI because those schools are struggling to find substitutes,” said Dr. Baldwin.

At last week’s board meeting, there were 22 staff members and 158 students out due to quarantine or positive COVID19 test results. Highlands Schools continues to have a lower number of cases than other schools, with the last new positive case at Highlands School being reported on January 19. 

“Macon County is one of the few districts in the state offering in-person instruction for our students,” said Dr. Baldwin. “Most schools in NC are virtual. But we are at the point to where some of our schools may have to transition to Plan C due to too many staff having to quarantine.” 

Dr. Baldwin said that Public Health Director Kathy McGaha has originally stated teachers could expect to receive the vaccine toward the end of January, however, due to a recent change in the county’s allocation of vaccine’s from the state, it is no longer clear when teachers in Macon County will be eligible to receive the vaccine. 

“The sooner we can get our school staff — that’s bus drivers, teachers, cafeteria personnel, the vaccine — the sooner we can return to in-person for all of our students,” said Dr. Baldwin.

Dr. Baldwin said each school’s COVID19 situation varies from day to day and school to school. While as of Monday night there were enough staff for Macon Middle School and Mountain View Intermediate to remain open on Tuesday, Dr. Baldwin said that if one other teacher has to be out — things could change and the schools could switch to remote instruction due to a lack of staff. 

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