From Peg Newell
A sleeve pushed back, raw skin wiped clean and sterilized. A sharp pinch of a slender needle causes the entire arm to seize up, a relatively familiar feeling. However, something is different this time. It’s no longer just a shot. Now it is something much more meaningful: an injection of hope for the Fayetteville-Manlius faculty and staff.
Many are aware of the pressure that the pandemic has burdened teachers, support staff, administration, and other workers in the Fayetteville-Manlius district with. It is impossible to truly grasp the hardships they faced this past year. Ms. Patroulis, a teacher and local union president for the district, noted that this has been the most difficult year of her career thus far, and she feels most teachers would concur. “I’ll answer this personally first. I’ve been teaching for more than 30 years, and this has been the most difficult of them all. I think that’s true for all of our teachers. For me, it’s been heartbreaking not seeing students packed into the library every day. I miss the energy and activities of an ordinary school year,” she reflected.
However, within the past month a portion of their stress was alleviated when many were provided with hope when they took advantage of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout made available for faculty and staff in New York State.
The Fayetteville-Manlius Teachers’ Association (FMTA) issued a poll that surveyed which of its members had received the recent vaccine. According to Ms. Patroulis, of those who selected to participate in the questionnaire, over 85% indicated they have already received their first dose, with the remaining reported that their appointment is currently scheduled for the upcoming weeks. This was all despite the relatively high competition many faced while scheduling their appointments, leading to great difficulty.
Veteran high school science teacher Mrs. Ward expressed the “euphoria” she felt upon getting vaccinated with the first dose, “I just felt this huge weight off my shoulders, even though we still have to wear masks, we still have to be careful, there’s all these new variants, I just still felt like ‘ahh yes.’ I’ll feel even better after the second [dose].”
Jeff Gordon, the Assistant Superintendent for Personnel in the district acknowledged these feelings of excitement and commended the staff’s tireless efforts throughout this dire situation. He also emphasized that at this point, the vaccinations are just providing an emblematic reprieve. He commented that there are currently no pending adjustments for the district’s operating plan, and that FM will continue to follow state guidance and safety protocols.
Nevertheless, it is certainly a breakthrough that the Fayetteville-Manlius faculty and staff are not only instilled with immunity, but also feel reassured with what the future holds for the greater school community. Ms. Patroulis was certainly optimistic and looked forward to improvement from the struggles of the year, “Because the vaccines are becoming available, we can at least see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel now. It’s encouraging!”
Jeff Gordon promoted similar messages of hope when he reiterated the important message that this is not a permanent situation, and that working together to keep each other safe will provide a brighter and healthier future very soon for all.