With COVID-19 still a concern, Loudon County and Lenoir City schools gave educators the opportunity for a booster shot Friday at Loudon County Health Department.

Turnout was low between the two school districts.

Teresa Harrill, health department director, said 96 teachers took advantage of the drive-through booster shot event.

“We were expecting 240, but I think lots of folks — if they wanted a booster — have gone to other places to get the booster,” Harrill said in an email correspondence.

Loudon County Schools called off classes Friday to give teachers the chance to get vaccinated.

Mike Garren, Loudon County director of schools, said he wanted to find a time 14 days before holiday gatherings to give “maximum efficacy.” The district also wanted to provide a day that would allow teachers time if they experienced symptoms because of the shot.

“One of the primary reasons for the event is that we have been facing operational issues with staffing and not having enough substitutes to cover staff that are out for sickness, not even related to COVID,” Garren said in an email correspondence. “If a large number of staff began getting the booster at various times and then did not feel well, we could have been faced with multiple closures for staffing reasons.”

Teachers also used Friday for professional development, mental health and self-care, Garren said.

“In some ways, this year has been more challenging than last year because there were expectations of normalcy coming into this school year,” Garren said. “However, we are still dealing with the pandemic for a third consecutive school year. I appreciate our staff and their hard work during this school year. I know keeping our staff as safe and healthy as possible will help us mitigate the risk of multiple closures.”

Jeanne Barker, Lenoir City director of schools, said few teachers took advantage but she wanted to offer the opportunity.

“We did go ahead and set aside like 2:30 to 3:30 (p.m.) for the elementary, 3:30 to 4 (p.m.) for the middle school and 4 to 4:30 (p.m.) for the high school so that they could do a drive-through to get their booster shots if they wanted,” Barker said. “Most of ours had already gone to their own doctors or walk-in clinics to get their boosters.”

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, Loudon County had 168 positive COVID-19 cases as of Monday.

“It’s concerning the numbers are going up,” Harrill said of the county’s overall total. “We are a couple, three weeks from Thanksgiving holiday — so many gatherings, so really not surprising. People are letting their guard down. Still need to focus on the social distancing, hand washing and mask.

“… Getting the booster is extremely important for those that received the last dose of vaccine longer than six months ago,” she added. “Especially for those folks that have underlying health issues. We are also encouraging flu shots. Last year was record low flu cases. We were being very diligent with our precautions. We are already seeing flu cases.”