O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
Governor Sununu and education leaders need to work to give teachers the COVID vaccine now. We cannot wait for the distribution as currently prescribed in NH. Teachers are included in Phase 2, not receiving doses until March-May. Waiting that long means there would only be a few weeks left before the end of the school year for in-person learning.
We must move K-12 teachers to the front of the line. Prioritizing teachers now could mean the difference between getting students back in March or next September.
Many states are moving teachers to the front of the line for this very reason. See for example:
- Utah: https://coronavirus.utah.gov/utah-teachers-school-staff-older-adults-to-receive-covid-19-vaccine/
- Virginia: https://www.wusa9.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/virginia-covid-19-teachers-vaccine-essential-workers/65-e69bcb94-b3ad-4ff1-a5fa-22088ca8f0b9
- New Mexico: https://www.koat.com/article/teachers-grocery-store-workers-and-more-now-eligible-for-covid-19-vaccine/35166590#
…and more are likely to join these states.
On December 20, the CDC also recommended speeding teachers’ access to the vaccine, categorizing them as “frontline workers” who should receive the vaccine in Phase 1b: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/acip/meetings/downloads/slides-2020-12/slides-12-20/02-COVID-Dooling.pdf (see pp. 8, 10).
Leadership at several levels can make this urgent need a reality: Commissioner Edelblut, the Department of Education, School District administrators, and the Department of Health can plan metrics ahead of time that include the reality of the vaccine; and, most importantly, Governor Sununu can revise the phased distribution of the vaccine to include teachers in the first phase instead of the second.
We need to return students to in-person learning. Other states are making it work—New Hampshire should join them and move teachers to the front of the line.
Sean Parr, Ph.D. is a college professor and lives in Manchester, NH with his wife and children.