GRPS eager to begin staff COVID-19 vaccination process

Posted at 12:43 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 16:42:44-05

KENT CO., Mich — School staff in West Michigan will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday, Jan. 11th.

It’s part of the state’s vaccine expansion announced earlier this week.

As with all things in the vaccination rollout, the timeline for people actually getting vaccinated will depend heavily on supply, which is very limited right now.

Regardless, Grand Rapids Public Schools said it’s the start to getting kids back in the classroom.

“I think we are all yearning for some normalcy,” said GRPS Executive Director of Communications, John Helmholdt.

It’s normalcy teachers and students have been craving. The hope of that though, all hinging on the COVID-19 vaccine.

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccination registration for West Michiganders in next phase opens Friday

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Helmholdt said, “What we know is what’s best for children is for them to be in in-person instruction and we are just excited to finally be getting to the point where we are going to be bringing more than two-thirds of our students back into the classroom.”

All 2,600 GRPS staff will be eligible for the vaccine starting Monday, from teachers to custodians, teachers aides, and school administrators.

“At minimum, what we know will come is a link for employees to begin to schedule their appointments for vaccines. That doesn’t mean that vaccines will be administered on Monday - that’s based on supply, availability, and capacity at the Kent County Health Department to administer it,” Helmholdt said.

Helmholdt told FOX 17 that the health department has been working closely with all local hospitals to coordinate how and when all public and private school staff will get vaccinated, but he acknowledges that it will be a long, slow process.

He said, “This is not going to happen in just a couple days or a couple weeks. This is going to take time for all of those appointments to get scheduled, for those vaccines to be administered.”

While logistics are still unclear, Helmholdt said that it’s still encouraging to be able to start moving forward.

“From an academic, social, emotional, and mental health well-being it would just feel great to get back to some degree of normalcy and to get our students back in the class, so they can be there with their classmates, be there with their teacher, and really get back to normal teaching and learning.

GRPS is set to return to a hybrid/in-person model starting on January 19th.

All school employee in West Michigan will get emails from their respective school districts with a link to register and make appointments for their vaccinations.

GRPS is not requiring staff to get the vaccine, but is strongly encouraging it.