Over 300 Juneau School District staff received first vaccine dose, superintendent says

The offices of the Juneau School District, pictured here on Aug. 6, 2020, are located at 1208 Glacier Ave., in Juneau.
The offices of the Juneau School District, pictured here on Aug. 6, 2020, are located at 1208 Glacier Ave., in Juneau. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Schools in Juneau are a little safer now that all teachers and staff in the district are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Chris Heidemann is a culinary arts teacher at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. He got his first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the city’s last vaccination clinic.

Heidemann said before that, it was difficult having kids back in his classroom.

“It was a constant stressor on top of, you know, the day-to-day stress of trying to design instruction for both remote and in-person students, to have to worry about, you know, not having the vaccination,” Heidemann said.

Superintendent Bridget Weiss said it took a lot of advocacy with the state’s medical team to get all teachers on the eligibility tier for vaccination. The original tier was limited to educators 50 and up.

“Many other states did not do that, wherever they put educators in the tiered system, it was just all educators versus split by age,” Weiss said. “We were a little surprised when that original announcement came out.”

She said out of about 750 staff, 350 have been vaccinated at least once. Another 230 are planning to get vaccinated.

“Certainly want as many to get vaccinated as are comfortable getting vaccinated,” Weiss said. “At this point, it’s just been helping facilitate the process so that they know how to get an appointment and all of those pieces.”

Heidemann is still teaching a majority of his class remotely. He said, with kids, it’s especially challenging.

“I mean, right now I’m assessing cooking via photographs that they send me from their home kitchens,” Heidemann said.

But, there is an upside to teaching at least for families.

“I’ve had a ton of comments from parents that it’s been awesome to have their kids at home, cooking a meal and providing that to siblings and family and then help cleaning up and working around the kitchen,” he said.

He said he’s looking forward to the day he can do his job that way it’s supposed to be done — in the kitchen with all his students, safely.

Those eligible to get vaccinated can sign up online for the city’s upcoming vaccination clinic on March 12th and 13th at or by calling the city’s COVID-19 hotline at 586-6000.

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