Teacher vaccinations

Atkinson Elementary special education teacher Tonya Moore gets vaccinated by volunteer Laura Kinney on Friday, January 22, 2021 at Broadbent Arena.

Kentucky educators can get a $100 bonus for being vaccinated against COVID-19 under a new initiative from the Kentucky Department of Education.

KDE announced Friday it will spend up to $8.8 million of its federal COVID-19 relief funds to provide cash incentives to encourage more school employees to get the shot.

“Getting people vaccinated is one of the main ways we’re going to be able to get out of this pandemic and get back into our classrooms as usual,” Education Commissioner Jason Glass said in a press release.

All full- and part-time public school employees who are fully vaccinated by Dec. 1 are eligible for the stipend, according to a press release.

Vaccinations are seen as a top way to keep schools open because fully vaccinated people who test positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic do not need to quarantine.

More than one-fifth of Kentucky's school districts have had to close because of COVID-19 this school year. Several districts cited staff shortages due to quarantines as a reason for closures.

The funding will cover 88,000 district employees. Glass told reporters he believes there is enough money to cover all interested workers in Kentucky school districts.

"If they all were to get vaccinated, that's a great problem to have, and we have enough funds to cover that," Glass said Friday afternoon.

KDE does not track how many school staff are vaccinated, Glass said.

Districts will be required to pay staff first in order to be reimbursed by KDE, and are encouraged to offer employees additional dollars to sweeten the deal.

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