Calls grow to vaccinate teachers next in order to reopen schools, resume in-person learning

Rallies across the Bay Area Tuesday and Wednesday are calling for solidifying a concerted push for in-person learning.

"In person learning is the best learning. Distance learning is not working for so many kids,” said parent Jennifer Oxe.

But for that to happen, many have said teachers will need the coveted shot-in-the-arm sooner, not later.

Members of the non-profit Californians for Quality Early Learning sent a letter to the governor, urging early childhood educators remain in the top tier of the essential workers list. Executive Director Dave Esbin said other professions are trying to join that list, potentially pushing out his organization.

“Parents can’t go to work, if their young children don’t have care,” said Esbin. “This is the workforce that has to take care of those children.”

The state has a work group of medical experts developing guidelines for prioritizing vaccinations. Ultimately, that group will clarify who gets the shot after healthcare workers and nursing home residents.

Some argue employees who cannot work remotely should be in the next tier. The group would include grocery store and farm workers, along with rideshare drivers.

The California Teachers Association hints teachers should be next.

"If we can get the adult members of a school community access to a vaccine then I think we can quickly return students to campus," said Patrick Bernhardt, president of the San Jose Teachers Association.

Not all educators are on-board the push for priority status for vaccinations, so that in-person learning can resume.

“Things aren’t normal until everybody gets the same thing,” said education expert Tammy Cabrera.

She said pushing for teachers to get special consideration sends the wrong message..

“It touches every life. And so the idea behind only certain people, whether it be the teachers or certain people getting that vaccine, it doesn’t fare well overall with even culture and moral,” Cabrera said.

The CTA maintains vaccination is the beginning step to reopening schools. But, personal protective equipment, social distancing, ventilation and deep cleaning must continue until the virus is no longer being transmitted at dangerous levels.