By Jeff Todd

THORNTON, Colo. (CBS4) – Following a massive vaccination effort for Mapleton Public Schools, there’s hope of a changing tide around vaccination rates in Adams County.

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“I was really excited to get the vaccine. It feels like this is the first time I’ve felt like there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon,” said Emily Adams, a sixth grade teacher at Adventure Elementary School.

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Adams was one of 550 teachers and staff to get their first dose at North Suburban Medical Center on Friday.

“This whole vaccine process was so easy. And I think that is so important because going back to school in the middle of a pandemic can be very stressful, but I think a lot of us feel very taken care of,” Adams said.

Nearly 75% of 7,000 students in Mapleton schools are from minority communities. The district calls itself “the heart of Denver” because of its location in the middle of Denver, Thornton, and Westminster in Adams County. Data from Tri-County Health shows the virus is still active in many neighborhoods in the area, but the district has persevered through the pandemic and been in the classroom for a majority of the school year.

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“Great things are happening here,” said Marisa Abreo, an Interventionist at Global Intermediate Academy, at the vaccination event. “I want to do what’s best for our community and staying healthy and getting our kids back into the classrooms and staying in the classrooms.”

Vaccination rates are lagging in Adams County compared to neighboring counties. There’s some that believe with the entire district staff vaccinated, there will be benefits beyond the campuses.

“I plan to share with them and tell them what we’re doing here as a whole,” Abreo said about her students. “I think with Mapleton teachers getting vaccinated it spread the word and the message that it’s so important to get vaccinated for our community, at school, and at home and with their families.”

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“I think the biggest goal of teaching sixth graders is that you really have a voice and trying to teach the importance of being an advocate. Overall, we want them to feel impowered,” said Adams. “COVID and the pandemic has been a hot topic of conversation in class. We will continue the conversation on Tuesday.”

Jeff Todd