GREAT FALLS, Mont.- Montana school districts are trying to decide whether the COVID19 vaccine should be required for employees. Right now Great Falls Public Schools don't plan to make their teachers get the shot anytime soon. 
Researchers say people infected with COVID-19 could spread it to two or two and a half people. The CDC reports numbers much higher at nearly double that rate. Now schools are scrambling to put a plan into action to make sure that doesn't happen.
One teacher infected yet being asymptomatic could cause problems if the virus is spread to students, especially in higher grade levels where students travel to many classrooms throughout the day. This could pose serious issues, but Great Falls Public Schools Superintendent Tom Moore says he's doing everything he can to prevent that from happening.
"We're gonna strongly encourage our employees to consider the vaccine but at this point I don't believe it's going to be required or mandatory," said Moore.
He says the shot is still too new so he's leaving it up to teachers to decide if they wish to take it, and the district is currently working on a plan for anyone who is willing. 
GFPS sent a survey out to all 1,500 employees asking 'If the vaccine was offered, would you accept?' About 77 percent responded: 60 percent saying yes, 15 percent said no, and 25 percent still weren't sure. 
Staff in favor will have two options: to sign up and visit Expo Park's mass vaccination site in town or wait and get a shot through the schools.
"Because we have those two clinics of Alluvion's at Paris Gibson Education Center and at Longfellow we may be scheduling those clinics during different hours here in the school district for our employees," said Moore.
Right now Cascade County remains in phase 1B of reopening, which means restrictions further than the Governor's orders are still in place. Only about 150 GFPS staff members qualify for the vaccine. As for the rest, Moore says "I'm hearing and understanding that it may be into March before we're vaccinating the majority of our employees."
His team is working closely with the Board of Health and City/County Health Department to finalize the school district's employee vaccination plans, which could take about a month. 
Recently positive cases within teachers dropped significantly as shown in the chart below, falling 7.6 percent since before Thanksgiving. 
Superintendent Moore shared the following stats with MontanaRightNow concerning teachers' positive case rates since the beginning of November: 
Percent Out11.73%9.20%3.07%3.20%3.70%3.07%3.73%1.60%
Teachers out8869232428232812
Total Teachers750750750750750750750750

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