This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW ORLEANS – Starting Monday, nearly 500,000 more people in Louisiana will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Many of those people are teachers, daycare workers and support staff.

One school is now offering a bonus to staff who get the shot.

“For a lot of us, it’s been a long time of waiting and hoping we don’t catch COVID. before we’re able to get vaccinated,” said Bri Steilberg, the owner and director of Kinder Haus Montessori in Mandeville.

Steilberg is elated to know her staff will soon be better protected from the Coronavirus.

“We’ve had to shutdown a few times because we follow all of the guidelines by the Louisiana Department of Health,” Steilberg said. “So, for us, hopefully it will mean we will not have as many shutdowns and that everyone can stay safe.”

Her family knows the toll COVID can take. Steilberg and her husband both tested positive on New Year’s Eve.

“He was actually hospitalized for 10 days,” Steilberg said. “He was in the ICU for 4 days and there were a few days we were concerned he wasn’t going to make it.”

Steilberg hopes her story will motivate others to get vaccinated when they have the chance. At her school, she’s also offering $100 to her staff who get the shot.

“Truthfully, I wish I could do more because these educators are the people who are working and are in such close contact with young children,” Steilberg said. “It’s a choice and decison for all of them to come to work, put themselves at risk and to do it happily and love on these kids even when it might not be safe and there is a pandemic going on. Any extra motivation to keep themselves and our children safe is really important to all of us.”

The Louisiana Department of Education believes vaccinations will be a key role in keeping schools open. The state will not mandate educators get the vaccine, calling it a “personal decision” for each person.