Phoenix Union Models Common-Sense Vaccination

In the face of state-wide inconsistencies and shortages, PXU pushes forward with its own successful vaccination program

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Kiara Quezada, Reporter; Design Editor

Arizona has struggled with the Coronavirus pandemic for a year now, with high infection rates and a bumpy vaccine rollout.  As of this writing, Maricopa county health officials announced that after February 12th, they could not honor any second dose appointments of the Pfizer vaccine.

Thankfully, however, the Phoenix Union High School District (PXU) successfully distributed the first round of the Moderna vaccine to over 1,200 teachers and staff on the 26th of January, and they will be able to honor their scheduled second dose for the 26th and 27th of February.

How did PXU beat the odds?

To see just how much time and effort went into this PXU success story, we reached out to the district Superintendent’s office. According to Edith Corona, Dr. Gestson’s Executive Assistant, our district vaccination program took over 100 hours, involving “planning, communication, logistics, contracts, and agreements.” Two district administrators, the Chief of Staff and Facilities Rental Coordinator, “have devoted nearly all of their working hours to this project.”

For the second dose, expect that Friday, February 26th, to be asynchronous learning again. And be nice to your teachers on that Monday, since some will still be recovering from vaccination side effects.

Does that mean we are back in person afterwards?

The district office is eager to have everyone safely back, stressing they, “cannot wait to have our staff and students back on campus!” But Ms. Corona noted the complexity of this answer, since two big considerations affect it.

The vaccinations will certainly help in the safe return to in-person learning, and mid-March will be enough time for full effective immunity for all teachers who completed the PXU regimen. But we have to consider the safety of all 28,000 students across a giant district, and community spread (which in many of our zip codes is still substantial) might still make unsafe conditions.

The tentative plan is for staff members to return on Monday, March 15th, and for our students to return on either March 22nd or March 30th depending on how the numbers in our community look. Students will have the option to either continue “distance learning” from home or come to campus “in person.”

But not every student can fit in a properly distanced classroom. If more than 40% wish to return to school, Ms. Corona noted we will likely need to create “A and B days so that we can ensure proper social distancing on campus and in classrooms.”

What was it like getting the vaccine?

An English teacher at North, Ms. Erin Thiry, generously shared her perspective on the vaccination process and its larger implications for North. It’s worth reading.

To read our full interview with her, CLICK HERE.