ALPINE, Calif. (KGTV) - The Alpine Union School District on Wednesday became one of the first school districts in the state to begin administering COVID-19 vaccines to staff.
For the five Pre-K to 8th-grade schools in the district, it's been hybrid in-person learning since September. Deb Burdette is the district's school psychologist. On Wednesday morning, her school day began with a field trip to a health clinic in the East County.
"I am thrilled. I have been waiting for this day," said Burdette.
Burdette is one of the dozens of staff, including teachers, to receive COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday.
"To me, it was a sigh of relief," said Burdette.
Nikki Woodward, a teacher at Boulder Oaks Elementary -- diagnosed with lupus -- also received her first dose of vaccine.
"This will help take that anxiety and focus that new energy on my kids and on my classroom," said Woodward.
District superintendent Rich Newman says he got the call last week from the health clinic, which has been working with local tribes. Their Pfizer vaccine supply came directly from the federal government.
"They had completed vaccinating everyone in Phase 1a, and been given the green light to move into 1B," said Newman.
Newman says in offering the vaccines, the clinic noted the district was at the forefront of COVID-19 protocols, from classroom safety measures and staff testing to an extensive contact tracing plan.
Since hybrid learning began in September, 16 staff and 21 students have tested positive. Newman says because of their contact tracing, they have yet to shut down in-person learning.
Newman hopes the vaccinations will help his staff stay safe and keep the school open for in-person learning. About 150 of his 200 staff have signed up for vaccination. The first dose vaccinations should be completed by Friday.
"My staff has worked so hard to help keep in-person learning possible ... These vaccines are a first step forward ... a sign of hope, that the light at the end of the tunnel is no longer a train," said Newman.
As far as other school districts, according to a county spokesperson, there is no timetable for vaccinations for educators. They are scheduled to be in the next phase, but the timing will depend on vaccine supply.