coronavirus vaccine

Teachers Say Vaccination Is The Best Way To Keep Schools Open

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Who is next in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Teachers are hoping they will get a chance for a shot in the arm, but it will depend on what the state does next. 

The Connecticut Education Association wants to make sure teachers and school staff get vaccinated as soon as possible to make sure schools are able to stay open. 

“The CDC said those who are fully vaccinated do not have to quarantine if they’re exposed to someone who has COVID,” Don Williams, executive director of CEA, said. 

Williams said that’s why vaccinating teachers is so important. 

“The number one cause of school closure in Connecticut is staff needing to quarantine. So when we vaccinate school teachers and staff we reduce school closures,” Williams said. 

Teachers are part of the frontline essential workers who are in the Phase 1b category. The category also includes grocery store and restaurant workers. 

“We are prioritizing teachers along with other key essential workers. We’ll probably be able to announce a roll out of that early next week,” Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday morning on MSNBC. 

Lamont said the majority of Connecticut schools are in-person or hybrid. 

The governor said every day they are building up more confidence to get more of those kids into the classroom. 

“We know the constant churn of being in and out of buildings due to constant school closures is incredibly disruptive for students and their families,” Kristen Record said. 

Record, the 2011 Teacher of the Year, said they need to get teachers vaccinated as soon as possible.

“If we’re going to prioritize in-person learning then we need to prioritize getting vaccines into the arms of educators so that we can do our essential work safely,” Record added. 

Educators are part of Phase 1B. 

“We discussed education, daycare, health care workers who were not listed or included in Phase 1A, personal transport, food and restaurant, essential retail, agriculture, manufacturing, waste and water workers,” Nichelle Mullins, CEO of Charter Oak Health Center, said.

Mullins, who chairs the committee that recommended the vaccine priorities to the Department of Public Health, said they agreed the state would continue to detail that list. 

“I have not seen the detailed list as of yet,” Mullins said.

Teachers are making a plea to the state to be next in line. 

“Kentucky will be finished vaccinating all of its teachers by the end of this week but yet here in Connecticut we haven’t even started,” Record said.

Record said they all want to be in school and the safest way to do that is by vaccinating all the adults in the building. 

“I believe it will raise the comfort level in classrooms for students, staff, educators, and families too,” Sheena Graham said. 

Graham, a performing arts teacher at Harding High in Bridgeport, said one of her students asked her: “Are you as afraid to be around me as I am to be around you? Right now this is not a healthy situation on many levels.” 

Williams said, “school closures almost always happen because school staff has to quarantine and so many have to quarantine that the school needs to shutdown.” 

Williams said the sooner they get educators vaccinated the sooner they can have more stability in the schools. The number of school closures varies from day to day and week to week. 

“The infection rate in our schools among teachers as well as students is much lower than it is in the general population,” Lamont said. 

Wednesday's COVID-19 positivity rate is the lowest it’s been since the summer, at 1.58%

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