“I feel very relieved now.”
Those were the words of the just-vaccinated Chaska Middle School West science teacher Mary Jo Nairn on Friday morning.
Nairn was among an estimated 800 teachers who received vaccinations at the mass-vaccination clinic in Waconia.
The effort was a partnership between Carver County and Ridgeview medical center; a total of 700 Carver County and 100 Wright County school staff were vaccinated, according to Carver County Public Health Director Richard Scott.
Earlier in the week, Nairn was a bundle of nerves.
On Wednesday afternoon, school staff received word from Eastern Carver County Schools Superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams that there would be 700 slots available for vaccinations on a first-come, first-served basis later that day.
Nairn recalled anxiously waiting for the 5 p.m. COVID vaccination registration to begin. She was on one computer, and as a fail-safe, her husband on another.
“I’m like a child waiting for Santa or something,” Nairn recalled.
Finally, online registration opened, and Nairn was among 300 Eastern Carver County Schools staff who were able to get an appointment.
“I felt like I was in tears when it said ‘Choose your appointment,’ and I got one,” Nairn recalled.
“I was lucky enough to get a slot. I felt relieved mentally.”
Middle school students are currently learning in a hybrid model — in-person and distance learning. “Half-in, half-out,” Narin said. “So it’s been a real struggle to keep kids six feet apart when they’re in the room.”
Nairn teaches sixth-grade science, as well as a technology and design class. She said it’s a struggle to teach children certain tasks, such as how to properly read the calibration on a graduated cylinder while keeping her distance.
Teachers will receive notices of children who need to be quarantined due to COVID, and she said she’d ask herself, ‘How close was I to this child?’
“It makes me feel anxious, and I’m not an anxious person,” Narin said.
“I’ve just been worried and scared to be in the classroom,” she said. “My husband’s a little older than I am, with compromised health conditions and he was able to get both shots,” she said.
The school staff received their vaccinations at the Lake Waconia Event Center.
“The process was so well organized, they just had it tuned — all the gears were working, from the greeter to the person who showed you to check-in, to the person who took you to the injection area,” Nairn said.
Besides the roughly 300 staff from Eastern Carver County scheduled to receive a vaccination Friday, another 440 already had vaccination appointment slots at a St. Paul clinic a few weeks ago, according to Celi Haga, district communications director. Haga's unsure if all of the St. Paul appointments went through.
So it’s possible that over half of the 1,413 educational staffers in Eastern Carver County Schools will have been vaccinated by week's end.
After her vaccination, Nairn was headed back to Chaska Middle School West.
There she learned that the on-again, off-again hybrid teaching model was moving to an in-person learning model — four days a week for middle schoolers. Her largest class holds 35 students.
For teachers, it’s been a year of such pivoting.
‘Pivot’ is a word that has been used regularly since the beginning of the pandemic. However Nairn has given the term some thought.
“When you’re pivoting, one foot is planted," she said. "And the other is moving where it needs to be.”