The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is calling for phased school re-openings based on community spread levels, along with mask requirements and social distancing practices to protect students, teachers, and school staff in recent guidance called Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools Through Phased Mitigation. It's also calling for testing and vaccinations for teachers and staff, as soon as supply allows.
In a post on Twitter, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky strongly encouraged states to prioritize teachers and other school staff to get vaccinated as soon a supply allows. However, teacher vaccinations are lagging in many states.
Chicago public school teacher Quentin Washington, who recently received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, told Yahoo Finance that teachers across the U.S. need to have access to the vaccine now.
“I’m glad to get it. It gives me a certain sense of security. And I think that every teacher deserves to have that before they’re forced back into a building," he said.
Washington says that he hopes to have both vaccines before going back into the school building, but he will be teaching remotely for the next few weeks as schools begin to reopen in the Windy City.
Mark Luxenberg, an English teacher from Rochester, New York, received his first vaccine dose on January 12. "The process itself was smooth and well maintained. The appointment making was, and still is bungled," the 20-year teaching vet said.
"We continue to receive daily emails from principals and our superintendent with links to county sites to sign up, followed up hours later by an email telling us that there are no more available appointments," he added.
A school speech therapist from Brooklyn, NY, who wishes to stay anonymous, tells Yahoo Finance that getting her vaccination was easy in early January, but her fellow educators who signed up later are having problems scheduling their appointments.
"Apparently, by the time that I made my appointment, they were completely limited in their supply. So now they're not [giving the vaccine] unless you have your second dose appointment. For first dose appointments, there's a waiting list," she said.
Jimmy Lee, president of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, tells Yahoo Finance that vaccine rollout has been picking up a little bit of steam.
"At this particular point in time, educators are not in the group to be vaccinated. We obviously start off with our health care workers. And I think that was a nationwide push, and then people over 65 people in health care facilities. And we have been asking the state to push the educators into the grouping so that they can get the vaccine, those who are willing to take it."
Lee says that he believes most Texas educators are willing to get vaccinated to get back into the classroom safely.
“It is critical for schools to open as safely and as soon as possible, and remain open, to achieve the benefits of in-person learning and key support services. To enable schools to open safely and remain open, it is important to adopt and consistently implement actions to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 both in schools and in the community,” the CDC guidance said. “Evidence suggests that many K-12 schools that have strictly implemented mitigation strategies have been able to safely open for in-person instruction and remain open.”
Six days before taking office, President Joe Biden said reopening the majority of K-8 schools was a top priority of his first 100 days in office. Biden made it clear that getting educators vaccinated and clear guidance would be needed to get American children back into the classroom.
“Our rescue plan will provide emergency funding to keep these essential workers on the job and maintain essential services. We’ll ensure that vaccines are administered, and schools can reopen,” Biden said in January.
“We can do this if we give the school districts, the schools themselves, the communities, and the states, the clear guidance they need, as well as the resources they need that they can’t afford right now because of the economic dilemma they’re in.”
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.