SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — More than 1,000 staff members — roughly 82% — in the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District are now vaccinated against COVID-19, SMCISD says.
The deadline for staff to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 and receive a one-time incentive stipend of $250 was Oct. 12.
Angela Murr is an information literacy specialist at Mendez Elementary.
“My little loves over here, grab your stuff,” Murr said to a group of students.
She would do anything for her students. In fact, they were a big motivation for her to get the COVID-19 vaccine, even though she wasn’t sure she would.
“I was actually very hesitant when it came to getting vaccinated,” Murr said.
Murr said the $250 incentive the district offered employees was also motivation, but information the district provided also played a role.
“We were able to do that and look at the data and look at the research, and then make educated decisions,” Mendez Elementary Principal Kristina Woody said.
According to Woody, the district has focused on providing staff with thorough information to help them make their decision.
“We had some hard conversations that were real,” Woody said.
Murr said the support from the district was helpful.
“We had people go before us, and we could see that it was safe, and we knew it was best for our kiddos,” Murr said.
Mendez Elementary has the highest COVID-19 vaccination rate among staff throughout the district, at 97%. Only two teachers there aren’t vaccinated, citing medical reasons.
“I feel safer. I kind of feel like we’re all in this together,” Fifth-grade math teacher Joe Merchant said. “I would’ve gotten it without the stipend. The stipend is nice, but my health is nicer.”
With more than 1,000 staff members vaccinated districtwide, SMCISD says it won’t mandate the vaccine.
“No, there’s no talk of that,” Woody said.
Morale is up, and positivity rates are going down. There’s no doubt school days are looking brighter.
“School is kind of getting back to how it should be… having fun, learning, and it’s a good place to be,” Murr said.
SMCISD also recently implemented regular asymptomatic testing on Oct. 8. It said it plans on providing tests to all staff and students every Friday at all campuses for the rest of the semester.
SMCISD estimates 30% of students are vaccinated against the virus, based off county data. Still, it offered COVID-19 vaccines for children to parents. It said while 80 responded, only 16 kids received vaccines.