Vaccination Access Is Key Part Of Debate Over Reopening Schools
The White House stance that vaccinations of all teachers are not a prerequisite for in-person learning puts the Biden administration at odds with some teachers unions.
The Washington Post:
White House Reiterates Teacher Vaccinations ‘Not A Prerequisite’ To Reopening Schools
The White House on Sunday reiterated that teachers do not need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus before schools can reopen, a stance Biden administration officials say is in line with scientific guidelines but that puts them at odds with some teachers unions that have insisted members will not return to the classroom until they receive the vaccine. Whether teachers must be vaccinated before in-person lessons resume has become another inflection point in heated debates about when and how schools should safely reopen, as the United States nears its one-year mark grappling with the pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 people here. (Wang and Whoriskey, 2/21)
Teachers Union Leader On Reopening Schools: 'If The NFL Could Figure Out How To Do This, Let's Do It'
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said Sunday that U.S. schools need to "actually try to get as much in person as possible right now." "I want to debunk this myth that teacher unions, at least our union, doesn't want to reopen schools," Weingarten told host Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Teachers know that in-person education is really important. We would have said that pre-pandemic. We knew remote education is not a good substitute." (Mueller, 2/21)
In updates from California —
California Will Begin Setting Aside 10% Of COVID-19 Vaccine Doses For Teachers
California is planning to start setting aside 10% of the COVID-19 vaccine the state receives each week to vaccinate teachers, day care workers and other school employees in the hopes of getting more students back in the classroom. "It must be done, and it must be done much sooner than the current path we are on. And we believe this will advance that cause," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday as he announced the plan at an Oakland vaccination site. The plan will begin March 1 by setting aside about 75,000 vaccine doses from the state's current weekly allotment, Newsom said. (Stein, 2/20)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom On Reopening Schools, 'We Can Do This Now'
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has said he supported schools safely reopening, advocated for doors opening immediately during an interview with ABC News Sunday, saying, “At the end of the day, we can do this now as we administer more doses. Yes, prioritizing our teachers, more vaccines in people’s arms.” (Shah, 2/22)
In related news about school reopenings —
Teachers Are Leaving Schools Due To Stress — And Many Say They Won't Be Back Next Year
American teachers are stressed, and more of them are leaving the profession because they’re not getting paid enough to put up with it — especially in a pandemic. “Different COVID-19 stressors affected pandemic teachers differently,” said Melissa Diliberti, lead author of a new report and an assistant policy researcher at RAND, in a statement. “Insufficient pay and childcare responsibilities drove out younger teachers under 40, while older teachers were more likely to say health conditions made them leave.” (Srikanth, 2/19)
Detroit Free Press:
As Classrooms Reopen, Stagnant Water Pipes Pose A Health Risk
Water safety experts say thousands of students returning to Michigan schools that have been closed for months are potentially walking into a health hazard. Water left stagnant in school plumbing systems during COVID-19-related shutdowns could contain dangerous bacteria or elevated lead levels, potentially posing a threat to students and staff. Schools can eliminate the danger by flushing plumbing systems with fresh water, a process most districts complete after summer breaks. But experts say schools may need to take extra precautions now, because COVID-19-related closures have stretched to 11 months in some communities — ample time for bacteria to grow and for lead to leach out of pipes. (Levin, 2/21)