ANDERSON, S.C. (WSPA) — High School students in Anderson School District Five will soon receive $100 if they have gotten or receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
A Thursday night email from Superintendent Tom Wilson caught Seth Thompson by surprise.
“I didn’t think it was real. I was like why are you doing this, but it turned out to be true and I was like, that’s what’s up,” Thompson said.
“Yesterday we rolled out an incentive for high school students that get the vaccine, they’ll be given $100 incentive, a check for a $100,” Wilson said.
In order to receive the incentive, students must fill out paperwork and show proof of vaccination. A parent or guardian must also sign-off for a student to be eligible.
“What the community needs to understand is, the student has to sign off an agreement and the parent, even though if you’re 16 you can go get the vaccine without parental permission, but we wanted the parents involved since we’re giving them the money, we want them to be aware of what the students are doing,” Wilson said. “We think it’s an incentive to get more students vaccinated. We already have a lot vaccinated. We don’t know the exact number but just anecdotally, I know we have a lot of students that are already vaccinated.”
Anderson School District Five also has an incentive program for staff who are vaccinated. Full-time vaccinated employees can receive $500, and part-time can receive $250. Wilson said so far, around 78% of their employees are vaccinated.
“We think it’s money well spent and an investment that’s a wise investment to keep kids in school, keep our schools open because the price of closing schools or closing a school is tremendous for parents that have to go to work,” Wilson said. “And what people don’t understand is, when a teacher is out for quarantine or with COVID, and they’re out for 10 or 14 days, it costs the district a $1,000.”
“We have a lot of students come to the front office getting the forms so they can be filled out. And a lot of our students are excited about the incentive,” said Kory Roberts, Principal, at Westside High School.
Thompson already has the vaccine, and he said the incentive was just an added bonus.
“So I think it’s just a cherry on top. You know getting the vaccination is already a good thing because it gives you a chance to not miss out on school, especially for me because I got AP and Honors, and so that’s already a lot of work,” Thompson said. “I feel like it’s a smart thing to do, because it gets more people, if they don’t already have the vaccination, it gets more people wanting to get it.”
Thompson also said before the incentive, his friends were on the fence about the vaccine.
“…but then when it first came out they’re going to show them the vaccination stuff, and people thinking about getting it,” Thompson said.
Superintendent Wilson said the goal is to keep everyone safe and school doors open.
“I hope the community will see; we are very aggressive to make our schools as safe as possible for our students, for our employees. And if we can have 90% vaccinated, they won’t be spreading it at school, they’ll be protected, and we can continue school,” Wilson said.
Anderson School District Five representatives said students have until Oct. 18, to turn in their paperwork.
Superintendent Wilson said checks will be made out to the student, and it will be distributed at their schools. Wilson said this incentive will not put a strain on their budget, as they have money allocated to cover the incentive program out of their general budget.