The Corner


Teachers Shouldn’t Be Vaccinated without a Concrete Promise to Teach In-Person

As I’ve mentioned here a few times, many schools throughout the country have not opened for in-person instruction this entire academic year, including those in Fairfax County, Va., where my eldest son is supposed to be going to kindergarten. Hopefully that will change, though, as the vaccines roll out.

Actually, let me rephrase that: It would be utterly reprehensible for teachers to take vaccines that could have gone to vulnerable elderly people if they’re not going to start teaching in-person again soon, and yet there seems to be no guarantee the two will go together. I recently got an email from the school district saying that “access to the COVID-19 vaccine will be available to all FCPS employees” and “will be administered . . . beginning as early as Saturday, January 16.” Meanwhile, the district just delayed in-person instruction again for at least a month, at which point a new, to-be-determined plan will be announced.

There are similar worries out in California:

California officials urged health care providers last Thursday to complete vaccinating medical workers and to move on to the next phase, which would include child care workers, elementary and secondary school personnel and staff at community colleges, universities and trade schools. . . .

Putting teachers high on the vaccination list is just one of the latest moves by Newsom meant to help California schools reopen as quickly as possible. The governor recently announced the “Safe Schools for All” plan, which focuses on reopening schools to the state’s youngest students as soon as February. . . .

But vaccinating teachers may not be enough to earn support for a quick reopening of all schools from teachers’ unions, who must consent to reopening plans.

“It’s certainly an important part, but remember, right now there’s no research evidence that the vaccine alone eliminates or reduces transmissions,” said Claudia Briggs, spokeswoman for the California Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers union. “It reduces illness.”

There is no reason to prioritize non-vulnerable people who aren’t working in jobs with lots of in-person social contact. And in much of the country, that seems to include teachers, for the time being.


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