Vaccinate Educators Now! That’s the message of CEA’s new ad campaign launched today, featuring five Connecticut State Teachers of the Year calling on the state to vaccinate teachers and school staff now. The ad began running today on all of the state’s major network television stations as well as on digital media.
New CDC guidelines state that educators should be prioritized for vaccination, and President Biden and Vice President Harris have strongly stated that teachers should be moved up in priority to receive the vaccine.
CEA President Jeff Leake and CEA Executive Director Don Williams were joined by the five Connecticut Teachers of the Year featured in the ad for a news conference with reporters this morning. Watch the news this evening for stories or visit cea.org/vaxnowad for news clips and the CEA news release.
“Our students can’t wait,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “The time is now to vaccinate teachers and school staff, getting our educators where they want to be—safely in school with their students, where they can focus on the social and emotional learning needs of their students—without jeopardizing their health. The new CDC guidance is a good first step, but now it’s time for the state to take action.”
Featured in the ad are
- 2021 Connecticut Teacher of the Year Rochelle Brown, a kindergarten teacher at Poquonock School in Windsor
- 2020 Connecticut Teacher of the Year Meghan Hatch-Geary, an English teacher at Woodland Regional High School in Regional School District 16
- 2019 Connecticut Teacher of the Year Sheena Graham, a choir teacher at Harding High School in Bridgeport
- 2012 Connecticut Teacher of the Year David Bosso, a social studies teacher at Berlin High School
- 2011 Connecticut Teacher of the Year Kristen Record, a physics teacher at Bunnell High School in Stratford
“Connecticut has been a leader throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we should be leading the way on this important issue, too,” said Meghan Hatch-Geary, an English teacher at Woodland Regional High School in Regional School District 16 and 2020 Connecticut Teacher of the Year. “Teachers do heroic work, but we aren’t actual superheroes, which is why we need to prioritize vaccinations for all school staff so that we can do our essential work safely.”
“In order to help our communities get back to normal, it’s important for educators to be vaccinated so that we can be there for our students and families,” said Sheena Graham, a choir teacher at Harding High School in Bridgeport and 2019 Connecticut Teacher of the Year.
“Our students, regardless of their age, are aware that they could be the reason their lunch lady gets ill, their custodian isn’t at school, or that their teacher may be sick,” said Kristen Record, a physics teacher at Bunnell High School in Stratford and 2011 Connecticut Teacher of the Year. “A lot of my high school students—they feel socially responsible, and so part of their social responsibility is, ‘I’m making the choice to stay home not only for me and my family, but for my teachers.’ Worrying about being the cause of someone’s illness is a heavy thing for a student of any age to carry around.”
A key point of the CDC guidelines is that individuals who are fully vaccinated are exempt from needing to quarantine if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, which would allow more schools to remain open when all educators and staff are vaccinated.
“Since the leading cause of school closures in Connecticut is teacher and staff shortages due to quarantines, vaccinating educators as soon as possible means our schools will be able to remain open,” said Leake.
“It would be absolutely devastating to a school community to lose a teacher, staff member, or student,” said David Bosso, a social studies teacher at Berlin High School and 2012 Connecticut Teacher of the Year. “If returning to school 100 percent is a priority, vaccinating educators is an unquestionable priority.”
“Teachers are essential; without us there can be no school,” said 2021 Teacher of the Year Rochelle Brown, a kindergarten teacher at Poquonock School in Windsor.
Brown says that her classroom is crowded, and it’s challenging for her kindergartners to wear masks all day. It’s also hard for her to help students learn to read and write when a divider separates her from her students. “Please vaccinate us now so that we can do our jobs to the best of our ability.”
The campaign also calls for teachers, school staff, and the public to sign a petition urging the state to get educators vaccinated. Join your colleagues and sign the petition.
The ad was shot at Windsor High School following all safety procedures and CDC guidelines, including mask-wearing, cleaning and disinfecting, and six-foot social distancing.