State Superintendent of Education urges teachers get priority for COVID-19 vaccine

State Superintendent of Education urges teachers get priority for COVID-19 vaccine

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - On Tuesday, Dec. 15, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley sent a letter to the Louisiana Department of Health, urging them to make teachers a priority for getting the COVID-19 vaccine once health care workers and nursing home residents and staff are vaccinated.

“For these reasons, I respectfully request that our approximately 166,000 early childcare workers, PK-12 teachers, bus drivers, custodians, and other education staff are prioritized for voluntary access to COVID19 vaccines as essential workers on frontlines. Their health and safety are critical to providing high quality, in-person instruction, while also securing the physical and mental well-being of Louisiana’s most valuable asset, its students,” said Brumley in the letter.

He addressed the letter to Courtney Phillips, the secretary for the Department of Health.

Inside Port Allen High School, signs on the wall to social distance and wear a mask, even temperature checks and more, just give you an idea of how difficult this school year has been.

COVID-19 safety tips.
COVID-19 safety tips. (Source: WAFB)

“We knew going into this year this was probably going to be the most challenging year for any of us that we’ve been in education, and it definitely has been that, it hasn’t disappointed,” said James Jackson.

Jackson has been the principal at Port Allen High for 8 years now.

"We knew going into this year this was probably going to be the most challenging year for any of us that we've been in education, and it definitely has been that, it hasn't disappointed," said James Jackson.
"We knew going into this year this was probably going to be the most challenging year for any of us that we've been in education, and it definitely has been that, it hasn't disappointed," said James Jackson. (Source: WAFB)

He completely understands putting health care workers and nursing home residents first on the list for the COVID-19 vaccine. But thinks teachers like his own, should possibly be considered next.

“I think that would make the second half of the school year that much smoother for us, on the health side of things. Knowing that hey, we’ve been vaccinated, the risk is mitigated a little bit for us,” said Jackson.

“We have over 800,000 students in the state of Louisiana and 65% are in face-to-face instruction every day. We know that about 15% are in a hybrid model, which includes face-to-face and virtual instruction. And about 20% of our students are in full virtual instruction,” said Dr. Cade Brumley.

“We’re not going to mandate that our folks take it, but we want them to be considered for being that next layer of people that get that vaccine. Again for the protection of our schools, but to take the stress off of so many people have to quarantine from being in close contact,” said Wes Watts, WBR Schools Superintendent.

“With the heroic acts of educators this year, we just believe they deserve this priority,” said Brumley.

A spokesperson with LDH told WAFB, “LDOE is a great partner. We’ve received many similar letters from many different entities. We want teachers to get vaccinated as soon as possible. We are still waiting for subsequent ACIP guidance to clarify best recommendations for Phase 1B.”

The Governor’s Office is also weighing in on the matter and believes right now it’s too early to tell who will get vaccinated next.

“The state intends to closely follow the recommendations of the Federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which has yet to issue any guidance for the COVID vaccine beyond priority group 1. We will also be following guidance from the CDC as we work to prioritize the limited supply of vaccine available to us. The Governor is deeply appreciative of the work of all teachers and child care workers and knows that keeping schools open safely is a key part of Louisiana’s health care system functioning properly and ensuring our economy fully recovers. We do anticipate that teachers and child care workers will be included in one of the priority groups. While we are only beginning the first roll-out of the vaccine to frontline health care workers and nursing home and long-term care facilities, we are anxiously awaiting additional guidance from ACIP and our federal partners on who will be in future priority groups so that we can ramp up our efforts to communicate and plan with additional groups,” a spokesperson with the Governor’s Office told WAFB.

To read that full statement from Dr. Cade Brumley to LDH, click here

WAFB’s Lester Duhe’ will have this full story on 9NEWS at 10.

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