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Children's Hospital Of Philadelphia Vaccinating Thousands Of Teachers To Help Get Students Back Inside Classrooms

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- In an effort to get Philadelphia students back inside their classrooms, officials from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia are rolling out a program to help teachers get the COVID-19 vaccine. Eyewitness News spoke to two educators of the thousands of teachers who will receive their shots in Philadelphia in the weeks ahead.

"My COVID diagnosis was October of 2020, right after school had started," Michelle Shaw-Carpenter said.

Shaw-Carpenter has been teaching first grade at Thomas Mifflin School for three years. A COVID diagnosis last year left her hospitalized.

"It was tough. Fortunately, I didn't have to be on a ventilator or anything," she said. "I stayed in the hospital a week, six days approximately."

Shaw-Carpenter continued virtual learning with her 5- and 6-year-old students, even in the midst of a difficult battle with the virus.

"I had Ms. Mason drop off my computer at the hospital and I got dressed and blurred my background," Shaw-Carpenter said, "and said, 'Hey, I'm here just to say hello,' and went through the morning routine with them."

"She forced me to bring her computer to the hospital and she said, and I remember this because she said, 'I'm the only normal they have,'" Thomas Mifflin School Principal Leslie Mason said.

Shaw-Carpenter will be receiving the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccination on Saturday, a bit of an anxious but necessary step for her.

"If it's necessary to keep my children safe and my colleagues and my principal, I will do it," she said.

Mason is already one of the hundreds of Philadelphia School District teachers and staff to be inoculated through a massive rollout plan spearheaded by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Thousands of teachers will be vaccinated in the coming weeks.

"If you think about public safety and keeping everyone safe if a vaccine will help us stay safe, I think everyone should be vaccinated," Shaw-Carpenter said.

Shaw-Carpenter will be walking back into a new norm once hybrid learning starts, newly vaccinated, with layers of safety protocols in place in classrooms and school buildings.

It's a bittersweet return for her and her little students.

"We're teachers. We have students who are resilient," she said. "We're going to make it work. We're going to do the best that we can with what we have."

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