Conway Medical Center to assist Horry County Schools with vaccinating teachers, staff

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CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) – Conway Medical Center (CMC) will work with Horry County Schools (HCS) to vaccinate teachers and school staff once they are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

HCS made the announcement during its school board meeting Monday night, as the district continues to reopen classrooms for five days of in-person learning a week.

“Students need to be in school and we need to do that as quickly and safely as we can, but following guidelines established by DHEC,” said HCS superintendent Dr. Rick Maxey.

HCS teachers and other staff would start being vaccinated whenever allowed to under phase 1b.

“We are still having to wait on that information, but we are prepared as soon as we get the notice,” said Velna Allen, who’s the chief officer of student services for HCS. “We do believe we can start within five days of receiving that notice.”

In a statement Monday night, CMC told News13 it has a separate clinical team for this plan that won’t affect existing appointments or people on the waiting list. Last month, teacher advocacy groups pushed for Gov. Henry McMaster to prioritize vaccinating all teachers. Here’s the full statement from Conway Medical Center:

“Conway Medical Center is excited to work with Horry County Schools in preparing their mass vaccination plan in advance of teachers and school staff being included in the eligible population for the COVID-19 vaccine. CMC has a separate clinical team identified and logistical plans in place to administer these vaccines without impacting those with existing appointments or who are on the waiting list. At this time, our only limiting factor is supply. We are ready, willing, and able to administer the vaccines once the governor and DHEC expand eligibility to include these workers and procure enough vaccine doses for CMC to be able to provide them. We will continue to work with Horry County Schools over the coming weeks to prepare for their mass vaccination plan.”

Brian Argo, chief financial officer at Conway Medical Center

HCS employees will get vaccines in alphabetical order by last name at two sites on weekends.

“If we did it by attendance area and several people had an adverse reaction, that could really affect our schools,” said Allen.

The vaccine plan announcement comes as Forestbrook, Socastee and Myrtle Beach middle schools prepare for a full return to in-person classes on Thursday. That’s happening because plexiglass installation around each desk was finished.

One teacher who spoke at Monday night’s school board meeting says putting in the barriers was a mistake.

“The plexiglass that was haphazardly installed is now rusting, falling apart, screws are coming out, it’s easily broken, pushed over and cannot be sanitized, and we’ve only been in school full-time for two weeks,” said Cori Canada, who teaches Kindergarten at Carolina Forest Elementary School.

HCS says plexiglass installation is expected to be completed at all middle schools by Friday and in all high schools by Mar. 15.

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