Some teachers in the Tomah School District are feeling relieved now that they have been able to get the COVID vaccine.
“We’ve heard about the possibility of vaccines for so long, but the reality really hits you when you finally get that call for an appointment to get in,” said Warrens / Wyeville Elementary schools principal Tim Gnewikow, who got his first dose March 4. “It really was quite exciting.”
Gnewikow was among nearly 200 teachers who received the Moderna vaccine at Tomah Health last week.
“I really appreciate our relationship with Tomah Health. They have done a wonderful job in setting up appointments for people and making sure there are a lot of evening and morning appointments so there’s less of an impact on the school day. There has been some great communication between Tomah Health and the Tomah Area School District which makes it as painless as it possibly can be,” he said.
Despite some initial reservations, Gnewikow said he put his faith in the science to get the vaccine. “Like with any shot or vaccine you have to take time and think about it and decide if it’s what’s best for you and your family and your community. Ultimately I decided to put my faith in the science and do my part for the greater whole and for my own personal health and get the shot.”
Gnewikow admitted the vaccine is a personal choice.
Lemonweir Elementary School Title 1 teacher Maria Klema, who got the vaccine March 5, said she had some reservations about getting the vaccine at first, but said she made the right choice by getting the shot.
“I’ve been very careful about where I go and what I do,” said Klema, who works one on one with students. “For me I think it signifies the fact that we can start being a little more ourselves in the school. I just feel that I am able to breathe again and feel a little bit of relief that I can go in and know that I am not in as much danger of getting it or always looking over my shoulder.”
Klema said the vaccine also calmed concerns about having to quarantine and be away from school. “For me it was a huge relief because I don’t have that time to be sick. I have been thinking about that, ‘what if I get this? I don’t have 10 days to take off from school,’” she added.
Miller Elementary kindergarten teacher Megan Long agreed adding the stress on teachers has been huge.
“I think a lot of us (teachers) are tired of virtual and tired of having to quarantine and this is just the next step that we need to take to try and have a normal school year,” Long said. “I also feel like it’s my duty to do it for my students, so I’m as healthy as I can be so I am there for my students.”
Tomah Health Community Health Educator/Employee Health Nurse Julie Anderson, MSN, RN, said more than 2,700 vaccines have been administered at Tomah Health to hospital staff, area elderly adults, along with teachers since last December.