Duval County

COVID-19 Vaccine: Ahead of spring break, school faculty and staff use days off to get vaccinated

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Following Florida governor Ron Desantis’ recent announcement, there are no restrictions for school staff members to get the vaccine at the federal run site Gateway Mall.

In its first full weekend of availability, teachers are making their way to get the shot.

“I couldn’t wait, it felt like a weight off of our shoulder,” said Margaret Rogero-Hastings, a teacher for Mandarin Oaks Elementary.

She told Action News Jax she’s feeling a bit safer after getting her first dose.

“It’s peace of mind knowing we can hopefully get back to more normal teaching,” she said. “The way we taught before.”

A FEMA spokesperson says numbers are still low at all 3 federal run sites. The Gateway Mall can administer 2,000 doses per day and have the option of both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

As many school faculty and staff are on spring break this week, Action News Jax was told from now-vaccinated workers that both teachers and bus drivers will be making a point to clear up their agenda and schedule to come get the vaccine.

“We are constantly in contact with kids, we are like essential workers,” bus driver Faith Jackson said. “So, kids are on the bus with the first contact of the bus driver before they get to school, it’s very important for bus drivers to get this shot.”

Jackson received her vaccine over a month ago because of underlying conditions. As it’s now available to school staff and specifically bus drivers like herself at the Gateway Mall, she says even with safety measures in place on the bus, close corners are still uncomfortable for others who aren’t vaccinated.

“You can’t have six feet of distance on the school bus because it’s just impossible,” she said. “You’re going to have the kids next to each other.”

Even with the vaccine administered, the CDC recommends masks still be worn for protection.

In a statement to Action News Jax, Duval County Public Schools says vaccinated staff will have to keep wearing masks.

“There is no change in our face covering policy. They are required.”

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