More teachers getting vaccinated in push to restore normalcy
With many schools across the country closed for personal learning, some have begun vaccinating educators.
While students, parents and educators have grappled with the uncertainty associated with pandemic learning - finding childcare, ensuring internet access for virtual learning, adapting to socially distant classrooms - the pandemic has shed an even harder light on systemic differences.
In Tennessee, officials announced last month that school and childcare workers would be eligible for the vaccine after it was administered to health care workers and residents and employees of long-term care facilities. And according to the Tennessee Department of Health website, a number of counties have entered this stage - students can go back to classrooms and their parents can go back to work.
"We're thrilled that vaccine access is being made available to educators sooner rather than later," said Beth Brown, president of the Tennessee Education Association. "We know it will be a crucial part of getting life back to normal."
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Joe Crabtree, a seventh-grade social worker who, like many during the pandemic, hasn't seen his family in a year, teaches at Liberty Bell Middle School in Johnson City, Tennessee, which plans to return to a hybrid schedule on Monday.
PHOTO: Ms. Nilo Ashraf, a health teacher, works with 7th and 8th grade students from an empty classroom at McCormack Middle School in Boston's Dorchester at a distance learning school on Sept. 21, 2020. (Boston Globe via Getty Images, FILE)
Crabtree told ABC News that he received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last week.
"It felt like I could breathe for the first time in nine months," he said. "I know I can still get [COVID-19]. But I have a much smaller chance of getting it now."
Crabtree said he hoped to achieve a greater sense of normalcy during the school year.
"I'm realistic. I'm a middle school educator - germs are everywhere," Crabtree said. "I don't want to take the risk of exposing this to my family. And so many people here, we had to make a choice between our career and our family."
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Teachers in Utah, Virginia and Connecticut have been told it is their turn and could get vaccines or register for appointments within the next week. Utah Governor Spencer Cox announced Friday that teachers would be eligible starting Monday.
"We encourage districts to prioritize these frontline teachers and staff based on age and co-morbidities," added Cox.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam tweeted Friday "that as of the week of January 11, 11 health counts will begin vaccinating people in Group 1B," also noted that this includes teachers.
PHOTO: A dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be given on December 16, 2020 in Aurora, Colorado. (Michael Ciaglo / Getty Images, FILE)
Teachers in Oregon and Colorado expect to get vaccines next month. In Cherry Creek, Colorado, they welcomed a handful of school nurses last week. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment asked local health departments nationwide to prepare to manage teachers and other frontline workers on Feb.28.
"I think we have treated teachers as frontline workers at many moments over the past few months and it would be a grave mistake and a disservice to their commitment not to involve them and actually prioritize them as we do. " go forward, "Connecticut Senator Will Haskell said in a phone interview with ABC News." I have spoken to many teachers who are very excited, largely because they are naturally concerned about their own health and safety, and because they are genuinely strive to continue to serve their students. "
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