NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WTVF) – Kathleen Lourence looks forward to greeting her first graders in person once again.
“They deserved a pizza and we’re going to celebrate our comeback with each other,” said Lourence, a teacher at Rosebank Elementary in East Nashville.
But teachers will have to wait to get their COVID-19 vaccine in Davidson County. “It is not normal that we have to do this. We should have been better prepared as a state, as a city,” she said.
Kathleen was willing to wait for her turn, and then she learned that metro schools were returning to in-person learning.
“You know what, I have to protect myself and I have to protect my students, so I’m going to do whatever I have to do,” she said.
So she found the closest county with vaccines available for educators, called another teacher friend, made her White County appointments, and hit the road. After Kathleen and her friend were vaccinated, they took a photo to mark the milestone and send a message.
“Teachers should be vaccinated,” Lourence said. “I think the state really needs to correct their assignments. I’m really curious to see how Davidson and Shelby counties, the largest urban districts, don’t have enough doses for teachers.”
Metro Nashville Public Health says they can’t give a timeline or estimate of when they might start vaccinating teachers because they’re still trying to vaccinate healthcare workers. That’s why Metro School superintendent Adrienne Battle told reporters on Monday she hoped Gov. Bill Lee would intervene.
“If Tennessee leaders are serious about keeping staff in classrooms, we need to make immunization a priority now, not just on a chart but in real life right now,” Battle said.
While waiting for that to happen, Lourence plans to help out all the other teachers who can’t wait either.
“If you want the kids to go back to school, that should be a priority. So I think our state and county health departments really need to step it up,” Lourence said.
Lourence and her friend are not the only ones traveling to be vaccinated. She says a handful of teachers from her school have also visited Smith and Carroll counties and that she has heard of other teachers from other schools doing the same.