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Teachers, school staff turn out for vaccinations

Teachers and staff of Lenoir County Public Schools rolled up their sleeves in the fight to keep schools safe from Covid-19, turning out in numbers Wednesday for a vaccination event organized by LCPS, coordinated with the Lenoir County Health Department and aided by the N.C. National Guard.

About 450 employees received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine at one of three clinics set up in the gymnasiums at Kinston, North Lenoir and South Lenoir high schools. Though some sat down for the shot with a touch of anxiety, they typically got up with a sense of relief.

A young female in a face mask raises a hand to it as she braces for a needle poke. “That the school district put this together gives me hope that maybe we can get everybody back in school,” Michaela Mozingo, a first-grade teacher at Pink Hill Elementary, said. “Covid has definitely been a worry for me and I think for other people at school, but I’m less worried now.”

LCPS began planning for the clinics – and letting employees register for them – in late January with the intention of being ready when state green-lighted vaccinations for teachers and school staff and when the county health department could acquire the necessary doses. Teachers became eligible Feb. 24 and, with the health department’s help, LCPS scheduled the clinics for the next day of fully remote learning, always a Wednesday.

“We’re really excited. There’s a lot of optimism and enthusiasm about this day. It’s been a long time coming,” Superintendent Brent Williams said while visiting the Kinston High site. “We’re really excited out teachers and staff have this opportunity and can get vaccinated and help move forward at an even greater and safer pace.”

Williams thanked the health department and its director, Pam Brown, “for what they’ve done to collaborate with us. It’s truly a collaborative effort.”

School district and health department nurses, National Guard personnel and volunteers from school staff comprised the crew of 33 that kept the clinics running as LCPS employees showed up for appointments scheduled for groups of 10 and set 20 minutes apart.

“It’s gone really smoothly. There was no wait time,” Mozingo said.

“One of the more difficult things for us is booking those individual appointments, but the school system took that over, which made this a very seamless process,” Brown said during a stop at the Kinston High site. “We are able to do that large volume (of vaccinations) because of that support.”

Setting the clinics up and scheduling appointments “was a huge undertaking that took a group effort to be successful,” said Pam Heath, LCPS human resources director and chief organization of the clinics.

“We are so pleased with the turnout that we had and that so many people commented that it was so organized, quick and easy. Our school nurses, several health department nurses and support staff and the National Guard all played an integral part in making this event a huge success,” Heath said.

The clinics will return March 31, when Wednesday’s participants are scheduled to receive their second vaccination.

Photo caption:

Michaela Mozingo, a first-grade teacher at Pink Hill Elementary School, braces for a Covid-19 vaccination administered by school nurse Lynn Davis during Wednesday’s clinic at South Lenoir High School. Working with the Lenoir County Health Department and N.C. National Guard, LCPS organized clinics at three sites that saw about 450 teachers and school staff vaccinated in seven hours.