An Alliance Of Labor organizations and trade groups representing teachers, principals and support staff is pressuring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prioritize access to a coronavirus vaccine for the country's 5 million public school employees as the first approved immunizations hit the market in the U.S.
With the majority of the country's schools closed for in-person learning or offering limited in-person instruction through a hybrid model – and as the number of districts forced to go all virtual climbs amid an uncontrollable surge in coronavirus infections – the heads of the powerful education groups are offering a compelling argument: If you want to open schools, vaccinate us first.
"I'm a big believer that educators should have priority after health care workers," says Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers. "But coming right after that, those in schools that are reopening in person or have reopened in person, should be a very close second priority."
The sentiments are echoed in letters and public comments to CDC officials and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, which is consulting with the federal government on how to prioritize certain populations in the U.S. for the coming vaccines.The national education organizations hope the CDC recommending educators and school staff for vaccination priority could change that and remove one of the biggest barriers to reestablishing a functioning public education system that largely collapsed for more than 50 million children in March.
*Rewritten from US News And World Report