Some of the first teachers got their COVID-19 vaccines in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties on Monday.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said starting March 1, 10% of vaccines in the state will be set aside for teachers and educators. From there, San Luis Obispo County Public Health officials said 10% of the vaccines they get will be set aside for education as a whole.
The distribution for each district is different and those working in special education are getting priority this week.
Atascadero special education teacher Christine Miller gave her COVID-19 vaccination experience an A+ and a thumbs up.
“When this was offered by the county, I jumped on it because I would rather be protected than not protected,” Miller said.
According to the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, 660 appointments are set this week for employees in childcare, school districts, charters, private, and parochial schools.
Lucia Mar Joint Unified School District got the largest allocation with about 100 appointments.
"It's a different system than everyone else uses in the county. My understanding is that we are ironing out some details and logistics to make it work for everybody so it's a little smoother to schedule those appointments,” said Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association President Cody King. “Once the appointment is made, there is a sigh of relief.”
Vaccine priority is based on two things: employee exposure and health conditions.
It means teachers working in special education where masking and social distancing might not be possible would be first.
“Each agency was to prioritize employees and we distributed the available appointments based on the number of employees serving in-person by percentage,” James Brescia, County Superintendent of Schools, said in an email to KSBY.
As an Atascadero High School Teacher, Christine Williams is last on the vaccination list.
She said a limited supply is slowing down the process.
“We are simply not getting enough vaccines in our county, which is frustrating,” Miller said.
If the county moves into the red tier Tuesday, she'll transition to a hybrid learning model on March 8.
Even without the vaccine during the reopening, she is hopeful other safety measures will keep COVID-19 out of the classroom.
“We have faith that the system we created, the new safety protocols that we have put in, and hope that everyone does what they are supposed to do,” Miller said.
For higher education like Cal Poly SLO, a university spokesman tells me they are working with county public health to figure out how and when faculty and staff there will get the vaccines.
Eligible childcare and education workers in San Luis Obispo County will be contacted directly by their employers to schedule an appointment.