Vaccinating teachers as part of return to in-person learning in the U.S.

World Today

Vaccinating teachers as part of return to in-person learning in the U.S.

U.S. President Biden is reiterating his goal for most K-8 public schools to be open for in-person learning by the end of his first 100 days in office. 

Part of that strategy involves vaccinating teachers. 

Some, but not all, U.S. states are now doing that. CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports.

At Denver Health Medical Center recently, Denver Public Schools employee Felicitas Peters prepared to get her COVID-19 vaccine shot.

“I’m so excited, I might actually cry,” Peters said. “This is so huge.”

She was one of one thousand teachers, school custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria staff and others to receive the Pfizer vaccine. 

“It’s getting educators front and center to get their vaccination, very excited about today,” said Dwight Jones, D.P.S. interim superintendent.

Denver’s school system, along with most others in the country, has had a rough past year as the pandemic forced it to rely on remote learning to teach its 90,000 students.

“Absolutely it’s been incredibly tough on educators,” said Dr. Steve Federico, Denver Health General Pediatrician. “Making a new model to educate our children from scratch essentially overnight is a herculean effort.”

In January, Colorado’s elementary school students were allowed back in the classroom. Secondary students now combine in-person and online learning.

“It is so important educationally, socially, psychologically for kids to be able to be in school,” said Jared Polis, Colorado governor.

During school reopenings, teachers have depended on masks and social distancing to stay safe. And while virus transmission rates in schools have been low, the disruption ​that results when positive cases do arise is a real problem. The recent decision to move Colorado teachers up on the vaccine priority list was aimed at addressing that.

“Once teachers have been vaccinated, two weeks after their second dose, they no longer will have to quarantine,” Federico said. “You can imagine that’s going to make teaching a lot easier.”

Recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines recommend full in-person schooling only when community virus transmission is quite low, a standard few areas of the country currently meet. They also say teacher vaccinations are not a requirement for reopening and many states have held off on fully doing that.

“Whether they say it’s a must or not it’s a must for us,” Jones said. “This I think is having such an impact that we’re going to be able to stay open and I think that’s a key.”

Several hundred extra doses caused educators in another school district to swarm a recent vaccination event. Their interest in the shots is high.

“Walking into a room with people getting vaccinations, waiting to get my own, it’s just a very overwhelming feeling,” Peters said.

She believes it will allow her to return to her office full-time. School could get back to normal.

“Back to ‘before times’ as we like to call it,” she said.

When these kinds of extra-curricular activities didn’t need to take place.

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