Mt. Pleasant teachers wait to hear vaccine priorities

Mt. Pleasant high school students walk the halls masked up on the first day of school. (File photo)
Mt. Pleasant high school students walk the halls masked up on the first day of school. (File photo)

MT. PLEASANT — As the new year and a new semester dawns Mt. Pleasant schools Superintendent John Henriksen is hopeful that this year might be better than last. With vaccines in the first stages of distribution and more on the way, he is hopeful it might even turn out to be a great year.

Vaccine rollout has begun across the nation, starting with long-term care facilities and health care workers at the top of the list. Health care providers and nursing home patients are in the first tier of vaccine distribution, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

With many states reaching the end of the first tier of vaccinations, educators are nearing the top of the list for vaccinations. Educators along with other essential workers including firefighters, police officers and grocery store clerks are in the next tier (1B) of vaccine rollout. Which is the next step for the state of Iowa.

Although, at the moment they are still waiting since most of Iowa still is in Tier 1A of vaccine rollout. According to Henry County Public Health Director Shelley Van Dorin, the county is waiting for vaccines and guidelines on distribution to arrive from the CDC and Iowa Department of Public Health.

“We have no idea: we are waiting on recommendations from the CDC and the Iowa Department of Public Health, there is no information out on that yet,” said Van Dorin.

Once available, teachers can opt in to receive the vaccine, but the district is not making any recommendations to staff members, and COVID-19 vaccinations will not be required for students or staff at this time.

However, with the news of the vaccine and hope on the horizon Mt. Pleasant Superintendent John Henriksen is ready for any semblance of a new normal.

“I’m excited about anything that would help us move closer to what I would call normal,” Henriksen said.

“Anything that is going to help us continue to stay in a face-to-face manner, serving kids and make things a little bit more normal — where people can come to events, where people can watch their kids perform, they can gather together — I‘m all for those things,” He added.

Along with a little bit of normal Henriksen is hopeful that one day mitigation might not have to include masking in the district.

“I hope there’s a time coming where the mitigation doesn’t have to include masking anymore, because I don’t think kids learn best, or as best as they can, with a mask,” Henriksen said.

“I don’t think it’s a sustainable practice, and I’m looking forward to a time when we don’t have to mask up anymore,” Henriksen added.

However, for the time being Henriksen and the district are all right keeping their masks on, with most complying with the requirement, and help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“I think everybody has been willing to do it, to try and slow the spread down, but it’s not the best way to learn,” Henriksen said.