School employees receive first dose of vaccine

Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 6:18 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Shawnee County began giving COVID-19 vaccines to teachers and other K-12 school staff on Monday.

The Shawnee County Health Department is working with Stormont Vail, University of Kansas Health System St. Francis, and Grace Med to get teachers and staff from Shawnee County school districts vaccinated before spring break.

A couple of nurses from Topeka Public Schools say this is a step forward in returning to the classroom.

“There were tears, I mean these people, our teachers really want back in the classroom, and so they were over-excited,” an OPN Nurse at French Middle School, Kendra Besenyi emphasized. “There were lots of tears before they ever got it.”

Teachers and staff members in Shawnee County school districts were elated to be next in line for vaccinations.

“As I was sitting here, I’ve seen a handful of staff members coming through just from my building alone,” one teacher from Highland Park High School, Jennifer Hector said.

“I’m glad they made the opportunity and had the time to be able to get out here and get the shot. I know some people are anxiously waiting for them to have their moment,” Hector added.

Three nurses from Topeka Public Schools assisted in giving first dose vaccines to school employees.

One nurse says this is a step forward to get teachers and students back in the classroom.

“So we’ll be actually giving the vaccination and we can also help with just overseeing the patients when they’re done getting it and making sure that they don’t have any reactions,” Nurse Supervisor with Topeka Public Schools, Kate Denmen said.

“This is an opportunity to be able to get the kids back in without having to worry about quite as much transmission and spread,” Denmen continued. "I see it as an exciting opportunity to use what I have and use the degree that I have to help out so I love it.”

“Our staff counts really have to stay normal in order to have all of our kids back, so if this is one way that I can do it then that’s what I’m going to do,” Besenyi added.

“We didn’t know when this vaccine was coming, so I’m glad it’s finally here,” Hector emphasized. “I’m glad they were able to push it through quicker and I’m hoping more people get it every day.”

Some people say they have waited to get to this phase in the vaccination process, and it brings hope for many people.

“When you have COVID, you’re out for 10 days, but if someone in your home has it then you’re out for 20,” Besenyi explained. “It’s pulling some of our teachers away for 20 days, so just the thought of that not happening anymore I think, it gets overwhelming.”

“It’s also good for the community because we want to be able to visit with our friends and go out and enjoy life again,” Hector added.

Stormont Vail plans to give about 1,300 vaccines this week to school staff.

University of Kansas Health System St. Francis is administering vaccines to staff from the Seaman and Auburn-Washburn school districts.

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