The classrooms may be ready but students have not stepped foot inside West Harvey-Dixmoor School District 147 buildings in over a year.
SARAH SCHULTE: The classrooms may be ready, but students have not stepped foot inside West Harvey-Dixmoor School District 147 buildings in over a year. Getting staff and community vaccinated is key to getting kids back. So today, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine came to school.
JOHNETTA MILLER: When the numbers rise, they're rising in the community. So if we can service the community as well as our staff, then we know that we're doing the best thing possible to our children.
SARAH SCHULTE: With the help of the Howard Brown Health Center, Harvey's Rosa Parks Middle School gym was converted into a vaccination center for staff, parents, and local residents, many who have been affected by COVID.
- I've see a lot of young friends that died.
SARAH SCHULTE: Parent Darryl Edwards had COVID. He's hoping more of the school community will get vaccinated so his daughter can finally go back to school.
DARRYL EDWARDS: Kids need to be in school. The online learning is cool. It's good, but there's nothing like hands on.
SARAH SCHULTE: It's been a challenging year for District 147, one of the poorest in the state and an area where COVID cases surged. Return to school dates have been delayed several times.
ERIC LEE: What we're waiting on now is just the purifiers, but everything else is in place.
SARAH SCHULTE: Director of Buildings Eric Lee and his custodial staff have been working nonstop during the entire pandemic to make buildings safe. Today, they received their vaccines as well.
MARK REEVES: I'm scared of needles. It wasn't as bad, you know, as I thought it would be. But I feel a lot better.
SARAH SCHULTE: With vaccinations and ventilation systems in place, the district is hoping to reopen school buildings for students in May. If not, definitely summer school.