ARLINGTON, Texas — When Monday began, the majority of Arlington ISD employees were not vaccinated against COVID-19. By the time Monday ended, they were.
More than 3,500 teachers, bus drivers, custodians and other employees of the district were vaccinated Monday by the Arlington Fire Department at Arlington's Esports Stadium. They joined the nearly 2,000 who were vaccinated previously, said superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos.
The employees received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
"I'm just so proud of our teachers for all they've endured," he said, "and all our staff members that have endured this last year."
Cavazos said everything fell into place last week when it was announced education and childcare employees were now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. The district already had a development day planned for Monday, so they pivoted and, in partnership with the Arlington Fire Department, instead held a mass vaccination event Monday for all employees who wanted shots.
He said the majority of their 10,000 employees are now vaccinated, including some that have existing appointments already scheduled.
Cavazos said they had advocated for education employees to be moved up the priority ranks.
"I've actually been waiting for a really long time to get vaccinated," said Elyse Rodeheaver, an attendance clerk at Little Elementary School.
She said she deals with students, staff and parents alike. "I think just not having to worry about getting other people sick and being able to go in and do my job the best I can do and just not having to worry."
The principal of Little Elementary, Beth Anne Woodard, echoed that statement.
"I am super excited that we finally got the shot," she said. "I've been on four different lists." She said she'd now be able to go visit her 91-year-old grandmother.
"I have to stay healthy and keep those around me healthy as well, as well as my family," Woodard said.
The state estimates 850,000 Texans work in education and childcare and now qualify for the vaccine.
The Arlington Fire Department, who put on Monday's event, said they'll vaccinate more districts this week. Those included Mansfield ISD, Kennedale ISD and some charter schools, according to Lt. Richard Fegan.
A Kennedale ISD spokeswoman said 145 of their 412 employees have signed up for Wednesday's vaccine event — so many, they decided to make Wednesday an early release day for students. A Mansfield ISD spokesman said 560 of their 4,800 employees have signed up.
"We know this has been a disruptive time," Cavazos said. "This allows us to take one big step today forward."
A Tarrant County Public Health spokesman told WFAA Monday that any teacher who wants a vaccine should be able to get one right now. If you've already signed up but need to update your profile and specifically list you work in education, call 817-248-6299.