Education

Are Teachers and School Personnel Eligible For the COVID-19 Vaccine?

The world has seen some hope with the release of the vaccine against COVID-19. According to the CDC, as of January, about 21 million people in the US have received at least one dose of the vaccine. There are around 4 million people who’ve had two doses. The fed states that there are already 48 million doses delivered to different states and territories.

However, it may be a while before things can return to normal. According to renowned infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country may experience some semblance of normalcy by mid-fall. But that will still depend if the government can get at least 75% to 85% of the population vaccinated against the Corona Virus. Such a number is needed to create herd immunity to stop the spread of the infectious virus.

Once the umbrella of immunity is established, it will protect the elderly, the children, and the immunocompromised. So far, the vaccine has been administered to the elderly in nursing and senior care homes. Health workers were also among the first to receive their jab of the COVID-19 vaccine. By April, the vaccination efforts hope to reach 100 million people.

What Does This Mean For Schools And School Personnel?

Unless teachers and personnel are vaccinated against the Corona Virus, a safe return to classroom classes may still be in the far-off future. Since the pandemic began, schools moved their classes online to keep the students safe.

It may take a while before parents who are supervising their children with remote learning can have some relief. However, with the limited number of vaccines available, vaccination of the nation’s estimated three million teachers may be a slow and lengthy process. Challenges from the distribution and logistics of the vaccines, as well as the fact that two doses must be administered weeks apart, contribute to the lengthy timeline.

Vaccinations may not have much effect in schools where face-to-face classes are already happening, such as in the South and the Mountain States. However, due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the past months, some states still had to return to remote learning.

Teachers are essential in the community. Many states are pushing to have teachers among the first ones to receive the Corona Virus vaccine. However, even if all teachers are immunized, along with school officials and staff, restrictions may still need to be put in place once schools begin to reopen. These restrictions include physical distancing and wearing of face masks. With hundreds to thousands enrolled in reputable public charter schools, a system must be in place to closely monitor and ensure that restrictions are followed.

The group of essential workers in the US is a large one, with around 87 million Americans. Each state will have the prerogative in how they will prioritize the workers in this group.

Are Teachers Considered Essential Workers?

Though teachers are deemed essential to society, some argue otherwise. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, essential workers are people who work in the following industries:

  • Energy
  • Child Care
  • Water and Wastewater
  • Agriculture and Food Production
  • Critical Retail, including grocery stores and hardware stores
  • Critical Trade, including electricians and construction workers
  • Transportation
  • Nonprofit and Social Service Organizations

By definition, child care providers are considered essential workers in the U.S. Public and private teachers, however, are not on the list. This is in contrast with the set up in the United Kingdom. Children of critical workers and those considered as vulnerable can have access to schools. Critical workers are those whose job is important to the country’s COVID-19 response. Teachers are on the country’s list of critical or key workers, alongside social workers and nursery staff.

States Where Teachers Can Get A COVID-19 Vaccine

The good news is, some states have included teachers in their list of persons who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. As of writing, here are the states that have included teachers as eligible:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California (select location)
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska (select location)
  • Nevada (select location)
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania (select location)
  • Puerto Rico
  • Tennessee (select location)
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia (teachers over 50 are eligible)
  • Wyoming (select location)

It should be noted of course that some teachers, because of their age and existing condition, will be qualified to get the vaccine even if their state is not on the list. And even though teachers in the aforementioned states are qualified to get jabbed, they may have to deal with scheduling delays.

Everyone is affected by the Corona Virus. Teacher unions and organizations are fighting for teachers to be considered as essential workers and be prioritized for the vaccination as well. But until the majority have been vaccinated and the number of cases goes down, children may have to meet their teachers virtually for now.

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