The Towanda Area School District recently hosted a COVID-19 vaccination effort implemented by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units.

The vaccination event saw 525 teachers and staff members from around Bradford County receive a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Both the Sayre and Athens Area School Districts took part and were able to vaccinate all personnel willing and able to attend.

“All school employees that completed the survey and registered — even those on the wait list — were able to receive their vaccination,” said Athens Superintendent Craig Stage.

Stage went on to say that even personnel that were unable to attend the event in Towanda have been able to receive their vaccination through the school’s partnership with local pharmacies.

Both Stage and Sayre Superintendent Dr. Jill Daloisio spoke highly of the IU, Towanda staff, healthcare workers and other volunteers.

“For my employees and the contractors that went and were vaccinated, they couldn’t speak more highly about the process, the procedures, the smoothness that occurred,” Daloisio said.

Stage echoed that sentiment.

“They were phenomenal,” Stage said. “They did a great job.”

After reflecting on the days that followed the vaccination event, Stage also wanted to thank his own staff.

“We were able to get the vaccine on a Sunday and — knowing that there are potential for side effects — we were able to stay open for in-person instruction due to the dedication of our staff members.”

While the majority of employees from both schools are now vaccinated, COVID-related policies will mostly remain the same for the time being.

“We’re still gonna adhere to wearing face coverings, practice social distancing, cleaning of our facilities, washing of hands, and dealing with COVID positive cases in our building in the same manner we always have,” said Stage.

“We haven’t changed any of our protocols or guidelines,” echoed Daloisio. “We continue to read and listen to the Pennsylvania Department of Heath, Pennsylvania Department of Education, and the governor’s office.”

However, Stage added that the vaccinations add “some peace of mind, another layer of protection and safety for school employees. It allows them to feel less nervous about working closely with students and other staff members.”

Both superintendents are excited and hopeful for the long-term outcome of the vaccine.

“It potentially helps us bring the numbers of COVID cases down low enough that we can return to some similar ways of instruction and having a normal school day,” said Stage.

“Each person that gets vaccinated provides that next healthy step closer to the end of this,” Daloisio added.

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