The recent wave of Connecticut schools switching to hybrid or in-person learning models has prompted questions regarding when teachers are going to have access to the COVID vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccine was rolled out in a spectacular fashion on Dec. 14 when ICU Nurse Sandra Lindsay became the first to receive Pfizer’s work. Since then, the supplies of the drug have been steadily increasing across all states.
Connecticut is currently at the beginning of Phase 1B of vaccine administrations, meaning that healthcare personnel, long-term facility residents, medical first responders, and individuals aged 65 years or older are the only people eligible to receive their vaccine. However, teachers, alongside other frontline essential workers, are members of the Phase 1B group who have yet to become eligible to receive their vaccinations. Governor Ned Lamont estimates that such individuals will begin to become eligible in March.
However, many teachers were left confused regarding this estimate following the reception of an email notifying them to sign up for an appointment slot. However, Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe claimed that those notifications were an error on account of some school districts across the state “misunderstanding the instructions” and uploading entire staff rosters into Connecticut’s vaccine registration system rather than just healthcare personnel and staff members aged 65 or older.
Some education officials, like President of AFT Connecticut Jan Hochadel or Executive Director of the Connecticut Education Association Don Williams, argue that school staff should be prioritized. Vaccinations would provide teachers and other staff members with the protection needed against the tens to hundreds of students they interact with every day, reducing the need for substitutes and helping make school reopenings more secure.
“[The wait to get vaccinated] is frustrating because teachers want to return – fully – but under the safest of conditions, which includes having all of us inoculated,” English Teacher Thomas Ross said in regards to the former comments.
Social Studies Nicholas Foley agreed, saying “I am hoping that everyone can get it as soon as possible.”
In contrast, the CDC claims that teacher vaccinations are not required for safe school openings. The prioritization is instead placed on hand-washing, mask-wearing, and social distancing.
Still, considering that Connecticut is ranked 4th of all US states for the percentage of its population that received its first vaccine dose, it seems teachers won’t have long to wait for theirs.