ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — The debate over which groups of people and workers should be prioritized when it comes to the Covid-19 vaccine is heating up this week.
In her first live network television one-on-one interview since taking office with the TODAY show, Vice President Kamala Harris stressed that teachers should be given priority. However, when questioned if she believed that getting them the shots should be a prerequisite for reopening schools, she wouldn’t say.
“We definitely want to be in classes. This isn’t a fight to not be in class. The fight or the argument is that we want to be safe when we are in class and that keeps our students safe. I mean, our work environment is our students learning environments so there’s a real concern that we want to be treated and considered as important workers not disposable workers,” said David Freeland, President of the Education Association of St. Lucie County.
Educators in St. Lucie County over the age of 65 have had the chance to get the Covid-19 vaccine, but Vice President Harris says that fewer than half of states are prioritizing teachers right now to get the vaccine. Freeland, along with many other teachers unions argue that as the push to have more students return to in-person learning ramps up, it is more difficult to have the proper precautions in place.
“There’s anger that we feel almost disposable in a way. That we’re here to keep schools open because it’s convenient not because it’s important to educate students. And then there’s frustration with being able to keep ourselves safe as more and more students return to in-person classrooms and education,” said Freeland.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out guidance saying teachers do not have to be vaccinated to go back to school.
“Teachers want to teach students in person. There’s a relationship an interpersonal part of education that’s missing in distance learning but we have to be sure that we keep ourselves and our community safe,” said Freeland.
President Biden remains that his administration’s goal is to get as many K-8 schools reopened within the first 100 days of his presidency for students to attend class five days a week.