“Vacc” to the future

Teachers discuss how COVID-19 vaccine will change in-person teaching


Photo by: Kai Fernando

Becky Bertrand pulls up her mask while teaching her English II class behind a desk shield.

Many teachers have had concerns about teaching in-person throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are three educators from the English department who have an opinion on the COVID-19 vaccine, and how that will change their views on in-person teaching:

Kaysi Sheehan

Kaysi Sheehan began the 2021 spring semester as an in-person English II teacher, but has since switched to virtual and telecommuting for the second nine-weeks. 

“I originally chose to teach in-person because I like to be around the students,” Sheehan said. “As cases began to rise and more and more students were getting sick at school, I felt it was no longer safe. I am also pregnant and my doctor felt that it was best for me to avoid contact with as many people as possible.”

Shehan received both doses of the vaccine in January and February and was able to get the shot from Denton County Public Health, because pregnancy is considered an extra risk-factor for COVID-19. She got both doses at drive-thru clinics hosted by Denton County. 

“I am thrilled to have gotten the vaccine and my husband has been vaccinated as well,” Sheehan said. “After my first dose, I just had a sore arm for a few days, but after my second dose I was achy, very tired and even had a low grade fever. After about 24 hours, I felt back to my normal self.”

Sheehan said she will feel much safer going back to school in the fall, after her maternity leave, now that she and her husband have been vaccinated. 

“Teaching and learning under orange-level protocols is very difficult and not nearly as fun,” Sheehan said. “So I am hopeful that things will look a bit more normal from the 2021-22 school year.”

Disclaimer: Since speaking with the Hawk Eye on 3/29, Sheehan has given birth to her baby, Theodore “Teddy” Sheehan, her second child. 


Becky Bertrand

Becky Bertrand is an in-person English II teacher who said she was fearful when in-person instruction started in the fall. 

“Mostly, I was worried about being exposed daily and infecting others,” Bertrand said. “I worried about social distancing in our larger classes. I worried about how quarantine would work for students and teachers.  As always, our school’s staff, students and parents pulled together and did the best we could to keep everyone safe.”

Bertrand said this has been one of the most stressful years in her 38 years of teaching, and she is excited that the vaccine will bring a sense of normalcy. 

“The vaccine is a strong step toward getting back to our normal lives,” Bertrand said. “I believe in science and knowledge and I understand why everyone needs the vaccine. It is about everyone’s safety.”

Bertrand got her first dose of the vaccine Mar. 27. She said she will feel safer about teaching in-person after having both doses. 

“All in all, I would have been more comfortable with virtual learning,” Bertrand said. “Even though I prefer in-person teaching.”


Kate Mayo

Kate Mayo is an English II, PSAT and SAT Prep teacher who originally chose to teach virtually. She also taught two small PSAT and SAT Prep classes in-person in the fall. 

I wanted to be virtual because my mom lives with me,” Mayo said. “And since she’s considered high-risk, I wanted to do whatever I could to limit my interactions. I decided to come on campus then, and still do, because I don’t have a good setup at home – no office, and the Wi-Fi can be sketchy.”

Mayo was able to get her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine the week of the February snowstorm, when a clinic nearby had extra doses available. 

“I got my second dose the week of spring break, and again, I just had a sore arm for a few days,” Mayo said. “No other side effects, so I feel really lucky. My mom got the Moderna shot and she felt terrible after the second dose – the usual symptoms of fever, chills, body aches and just miserableness. She would tell you it was still worth it.”

Mayo said now that both she and her mom have gotten the vaccine, she has a little less anxiety about the virus. Mayo also said she still wears her mask pretty much everywhere, so that has not changed. 

I had a lot of anxiety about possibly getting COVID and bringing it home,” Mayo said. “It didn’t keep me from my day-to-day life, but it did make me really aware of my surroundings and such. I do feel safer at school now that I have my vaccine, and especially since my mom also has hers. I know I might still get sick, but at least I have a lower chance of getting a serious case.”