PORTSMOUTH — Gail Schmidt, teacher and coach at Wheelersburg Local Schools, has spent more than 30 years in the classroom and on the sidelines as a cheerleading coach. Up until last year, she would have never imagined that she would have to transition to teaching in a virtual classroom and not being able to go to ballgames as usual.
“I never thought there would come the day that I couldn’t hug my kids or even my grandkids,” she said. “When they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, I beg to differ because this old dog has learned quite a few.”
Having to adjust to this new way of life in the classroom and for her cheerleaders wasn’t always an easy adjustment. She said her high school cheerleaders were only allowed to cheer at the home football and basketball games and were only allowed to travel to tournaments or playoff games. When the basketball team made it to the playoffs, she told the team and her cheerleaders as they loaded the bus for the first time that season that it should been around their 22nd ride.
“We made lemonade out of lemons more times than I care to count,” Schmidt said. “I also told the kids in my classroom that we’re not always dealt the best hand of cards, but you’ve got to learn to play them to the best of your ability and we did. We were grateful for what we got.”
Through all the adjustments in the classroom and on the sidelines, eventually, Schmidt and her colleagues were met with another decision: whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine or not.
“Initially, I was adamant that no one was going to inject some foreign serum medicine in me,” she said. “I felt they didn’t know enough about it, and of course, social media is not the best friend sometimes with everybody’s opinion because everyone is a doctor, you know.”
Through her hesitation, she continued to research and reach out to some of her friends in the medical field.
“I made myself pretty informed, plus I wanted to have some sort of normalcy,” she said. “Once I did my research and talked to people, I knew I was getting this vaccine, there was no doubt about it. I had no hesitation whatsoever at that point.”
After hearing all the stories of side effects, Schmidt and many of her colleagues scheduled to receive their first doses on a Thursday because they didn’t have students on Fridays. This would give them time to rest, if needed. To her surprise, she had absolutely no side effects the first round.
Then came the time to receive the second vaccine. She said she was warned by numerous people that if the first one didn’t affect her, the second one more than likely would. So, she scheduled for a Thursday appointment again in preparation. Again, she experienced no side effects!
“I would have done it again,” she said, “even if I was feverish or sick or tired, I could have handled that for a few days knowing what was ahead and that I was going to be ok.”
Today, Schmidt is fully vaccinated and proud to say so.
For her, being vaccinated means being that much closer to normal life. It means that she will eventually get to give the hugs that she has missed giving over the past year. She also looks forward to the day that we can all toss the masks. Ultimately, she feels safer and more protected now that she is fully vaccinated.
She understands those who are hesitant, she admits that she was too.
“I can’t tell anybody what to do and everyone has their own thoughts, but I think most people would feel better if they did their research,” Schmidt said.
Once more people receive their vaccines, she looks forward to things that were probably once taken for granted like a trip to the mall and being able to sit closer to people without worrying about COVID.
“I want to be able to go out and see people’s smiles. I want to see faces. I’m just ready for something that’s a whole lot more of what we’re used to having,” she said.
SOMC is now scheduling COVID-19 vaccines for all who are 16 and older. If you are interested in making an appointment or learning more, please call 740-356-CARE.