ARLINGTON, Texas - Thousands of North Texas teachers and school support staff got COVID-19 vaccines Monday and others are in line to get vaccinated this week.
Arlington ISD school buses transported hundreds of teachers and staff, instead of students, to Esports Stadium Arlington to get the one-dose Johnson and Johnson coronavirus vaccines.
"I think it's great. I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and get that shot," said Dawn Adams, AISD employee.
Some 3,500 district employees were shuttled to the venue. Monday was a pre-scheduled teacher development day and no students were in classrooms.
"The whole experience has been great, very organized. I'm very thankful," said Nora Aguilera, AISD teacher.
"I'm excited," said Jennifer Brown, AISD employee. "I'm excited to start the road back to normalcy and be able to enjoy a life again."
Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos said all 10,000 district employees, including substitutes and part-time workers, are eligible to get the free vaccine.
"We can progress to that normalcy that we all seek," Cavazos said.
On Wednesday Gov. Greg Abbott’s COVID-19 orders will go away, lifting the state’s mask requirement and the limits on occupancy.
But Arlington ISD said all of its safety protocols will remain in effect including masks, social distancing and temperature checks on campuses. The district will also continue offering remote learning to students whose families choose that option.
Other North Texas districts
Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa got his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Ellis Davis Field House in Dallas.
"I feel comfortable taking it. I’m excited I can finally take it," he said. "This is a game changer. I want everybody to be back in August in school and in person. And if we can all do this between now and then I think we can get back to somewhat normal in August."
Hinojosa hopes that most of the 22,000 district employees who want a vaccine can get one within the next two weeks.
In addition to getting it through vaccination centers, certified Dallas ISD teachers will soon be able to get the vaccine through parkland hospital.
"We’re really excited that Parkland Hospital is working with us to get our teachers vaccinated," Hinojosa said.
At Ellis Davis Field House Monday, there was no wait. Teachers from several school districts said they had no problem getting an appointment.
"We logged in and that was Friday and we could have appointments as early as Saturday. It was fantastic," said Paris Reine, Duncanville ISD teacher.
"I feel like it's going to be a game changer," said Robert Matthews, Lancaster HS teacher. "I'm just trying to keep everybody safe that I can, you know."
A Fort Worth ISD spokesperson says as of last Friday, more than 4,000 out of 10,000 district employees have signed up to get vaccinated through a partnership with Texas Health Resources. The district says several others have gotten vaccinated through other area clinics.