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Central Arkansas school districts gear up to begin staff COVID-19 vaccinations

"We want to get the vaccine out to our staff members, that want to receive it, as quickly as we can," one school superintendent said.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas educators can start receiving their COVID-19 vaccines on Monday. 

While the governor's announcement came as a surprise for many, the districts hustled this week to get their plans in place.

Districts are deciding, individually, how they want to distribute vaccinations to their teachers and staff. 

RELATED: People over 70, school staff next in Arkansas to get COVID-19 vaccine

According to Karen Walters, Superintendent at Bryant Public Schools, on Saturday, Jan. 23, all of Saline County educators will come to get vaccinated at the River Center in Benton.

"We want to get the vaccine out to our staff members, that want to receive it, as quickly as we can," she said.

Walters said they surveyed their staff and 71% of teachers at Bryant Public Schools said "yes" to the vaccine. 

Thanks to six local pharmacies, educators at Bryant, Benton, Bauxite, Harmony Grove, and Glen Rose will all get the Pfizer shot in one day.

The weekend was chosen for two reasons: the size of the group and substitute shortages, according to Walters.

"We were not going to be able to get enough people in to let our employees go and receive a vaccine during the day, so I was so glad when they worked with us and they set up this clinic for Saturday," she said.

Walters said the districts will be spread out inside the River Center building and staff will choose a specific time to come.

"The work that's been done by all the individuals in Saline County is a really good example of what can be done if we all work together," she said.

For teachers and staff at Pulaski County Special School District, there are a couple of options.

According to Assistant Superintendent Janice Warren, the district has partnered with Cornerstone Pharmacy, Baptist Health, and Kroger to distribute their vaccines over several weeks.

"There will be times that some of our employees can go to the pharmacies and then some of them are actually coming on-site to us at our campuses," she said.

That process will begin as early as Monday, according to Warren, for the 76% of their staff that will start scheduling their vaccine times.

"I anticipate it's going to be over several weeks, if not a couple months," she said.

The shot provides light at the end of the tunnel for many in education.

"I hope, with the vaccine or not, that it gives us a sense of normalcy, peace of mind, hope for our staff," Warren said.

RELATED: Little Rock School District prepares for distributing vaccine to all school staff

Plans are in the works for teachers at both schools to get the second shot. 

Both districts did extend the invitation to their substitutes to get the vaccine if they wanted it.