The majority of surveyed Grand Island Public Schools staff said they would be willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if given the opportunity.
In a report to the GIPS Board of Education at a meeting Thursday night, Cory Gearhart, executive director of information technology, said GIPS sent a survey to its staff and substitute teachers asking them whether they would be willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine through a partnership program between GIPS and the Central District Health Department.
According to the survey, 70% said they would be willing to receive a vaccine through the program if it were implemented. Another 4% said they have been vaccinated.
Of those surveyed, Gearhart said, 89% of administrators, 83% of substitute teachers, 77% of certified staff and 66% of classified staff said they would be willing to be vaccinated through the program.
Gearhart said the survey had about 1,400 total respondents, with 1,000 saying they wanted to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
Student representative Kendall Bartling asked whether GIPS staff members would be required to be vaccinated. Gearhart and Superintendent Tawana Grover said no.
“The decision to receive a vaccination is solely up to the individual,” Grover said.
Gearhart said that, while there was a “bounce” in positive COVID-19 cases in Hall County following the holidays, the numbers appear to be going down. He added the CDHD risk dial is “starting to relax a little bit” and is down to 2.7, which is in the orange, high-risk category.
“We are seeing hospitalizations go down and the positivity rate in the community go down, which is good news,” he said. “However, I always bring a little bit of caution when we talk about it because if we had been here at the beginning of the (school) year, we would have been terrified. But because we have gone through the cycles a couple times, we are now coming to a place where it is a little more comfortable, but we still need to be very vigilant.”
Also on Thursday, board members Lisa Albers, Terry Brown, Josh Hawley, Dave Hulinsky and Lindsey Jurgens were sworn in to their respective seats. The latter three were sworn in to their first terms.
Bonnie Hinkle was re-elected as board president, while Albers was elected vice president, defeating incumbent vice president Dan Brosz. Hinkle said she appreciated the support but that this will be her final year as board president.
“I have told the existing board members and some other people that I made the decision that the last two years of my term are here, and I will not be running again,” she said. “So this will also be the last year that I run for president because someone else needs to learn how to do it while I am on my way out.”