New CDC guidelines call for prioritizing teachers and school staff for vaccinations and ensuring safety precautions are followed in schools.
Schools in Connecticut have been open for in-person learning since September, and despite the CDC recommendations, the state has yet to open up vaccine appointments for educators.
“I’m a strong advocate of teachers receiving their vaccinations,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told CNN.
She added, “We have in the guidance clear language that specifies that teachers that are at higher risk–teachers and students that are higher risk, and their families–should have options for virtual activities, virtual learning, virtual teaching.”
Though the CDC guidelines do not require vaccines for teachers in order for schools to reopen or stay open, many experts, including CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, say that teacher vaccinations are essential.
“If we want students to be in school for in-person learning, the least that we can do is to protect the health and well-being of our teachers,” Wen said. “Especially as in so many parts of the country, teachers are already being made to go back to school in poorly-ventilated, cramped areas, with many students who may not always be masking and practicing physical distancing.”
“We must also recognize that CDC standards still aren’t being met in too many of our schools,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “Many schools, especially those attended by Black, brown, indigenous, and poor white students, have severely outdated ventilation systems and no testing or tracing programs. State and local leaders cannot pick and choose which guidelines to follow and which students get resources to keep them safe. And too many schools do not have in place the basic protections that the CDC has said are universally required.”
Currently teachers in 28 states are able to receive vaccinations, while teachers in Connecticut and other states are being left behind.
“The time is now to vaccinate teachers and school staff,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “The new guidance is a good first step, but now it’s time for the state to take action.”