New Jersey educators hopeful CDC will suggest teachers be prioritized for COVID vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday will release guidelines for allowing students back inside school buildings – particularly if teachers will be mandated to be vaccinated before the students can return.
The superintendent of the Highland Park School District says that the middle and high school will return to school next Tuesday for hybrid learning. They haven’t been inside of those buildings since March.
“I need states to be told educators need to be vaccinated now,” says Superintendent Scott Taylor.
Taylor says that he is hoping for a federal directive about vaccines.
“The teachers and support staff who have medical conditions or loved ones with medical conditions need to be vaccinated before they come back to work in the school buildings,” he says.
Superintendents across the state have the difficult job of trying to please teachers, parents and students. So, if teachers can skip to the front of the line for vaccine doses, it might stratify everyone and get kids back in school.
But that directive may not come. A recent CDC study suggests that it is not necessary.
“That safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated,” says CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
The Biden administration is suggesting that schools should be open sooner than later.
“The president believes schools should be open. Teachers want schools to be open. Families want schools to be open,” says White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “But we want to do it safely.”
President Joe Biden says that he wants kids back in school by April, hence the guidelines from the CDC.
In school districts like Newark and Montclair, teachers unions want vaccinations before returning. But if teachers are not prioritized for vaccines, that is unlikely. Schools might need to settle for continued masking, social distancing, ventilation and testing.
Taylor says that he wants to hear the CDC offer a new relaxed formula when it comes to the standard for opening schools.
“With the relaxed community spread standard, I’ll be able to open my schools sooner, while mindful we are still playing safe,” he says.
Taylor says that he considers remote learning to only be a temporary substitute for in-person schooling.