By Meghan Aslin
Art by Hallie Anderson
In my classes, I have heard constant ringing. At first, as a St. Mary’s student, my gut reaction was to fear for the poor peer of mine who has just made a detention-worthy mistake. But, I was surprised and curious when I realized that it was never one of my peer’s phones, but my teachers’. I was confused to say the least, as they would all pause, jog to their respective desks and frantically check the area codes of the unknown numbers. Perhaps, you have also experienced the same and wondered what was going on.
On Feb. 8, Governor Bill Lee addressed Tennessee with his 3rd State of the State address. In this speech, he said, “Across the world, this pandemic has exposed that when the government feels unprepared, it’s a natural temptation to think growing the size of government and reaching for the nearest mandate will save everything." In December, Tennessee had the highest number of COVID cases per capita in the world.
As Tennessee continues to struggle with its COVID-19 cases, Memphis has just now reached the 1b phase. This means that, despite Tennessee state government’s attempts to avoid another mandate while simultaneously wishing to reopen schools completely, before now, Memphis teachers have had to leave Shelby County to receive their vaccines.
In response to the distribution of the vaccines across the state of Tennessee, Dr. McCuller, Pediatrician-in-Chief at Le Bonheur, said “The governor didn’t send us as much vaccine. Shelby county has 14% of the state’s population and we got 7 % of the vaccine.” Because of the small number of vaccines available in Shelby County, teachers, who are a part of the the 1b phase, were looking to neighboring counties for vaccines.
Mrs. Herr, AP Statistics and Geometry teacher, has missed 29 days of in-person instruction this year because of COVID-19. Between getting it alongside her family of young children and cautiously quarantining throughout the year, she has had to work the equivalent of one month of this year from home. Mrs. Herr, along with many other of her colleagues, including but not limited to Ms. Bielskis, Mrs. Dunlap, Mrs. Levi, Dr. Lyon and Mrs. Goodman, missed a half day of school because of the lengthy drives to our neighbors in Haywood, Fayette and Crockett counties.
“Teachers should have been [vaccinated] after first responders if the state wants to get schools open quickly,” said Mrs. Herr.
For more information about the Tennessee vaccine phases, click here.
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