Government officials at every level have been saying it since the pandemic started: teachers and school staffers are essential workers.
“And yet there is zero talk of teachers being high on the list to actually receive the vaccines, that doesn’t make sense,” said Jen Kaelin, who teaches at Jose Marti MAST Academy in Hialeah. “Either we were essential workers then, which means we’re essential workers now, or we were never essential workers and the schools shouldn’t have opened.”
Schools are open, and teachers who are back in the classrooms are, of course, instructing students in person. There’s a certain amount of risk involved with being in that environment.
“There’s definitely a concern, there’s a little thought in the back of my head, the whole time, is this a dangerous place for me to be?” said Eric Garner, who teaches at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
“So for me, the vaccine is a 100%, I’m a hundred percent in, I want the vaccine. If I could get it today, I’d be in line, but I’ll wait my turn because there are people who are frontline workers dealing with this direct, face to face, and they need it first,” Garner added.
However, not all teachers are ready to roll up their sleeves to get the shot.
“I’m still ambivalent about taking it,” said Garnika Lane-Pierre, who teaches at Norland Middle School in Miami Gardens.
She says some of her African American colleagues are skeptical, as she is, about the vaccines, based on historical reasons and the way they were developed so quickly.
“All the kinks have not been taken out, I would rather wait to take it,” Lane-Pierre said. “I just feel like it’s still in the guinea pig era.”
The two vaccines, which have been approved by the FDA, have been extensively tested and have been deemed safe and effective by not just the scientists here in the United States, but also by health agencies around the world.
The superintendents of Miami-Dade and Broward public schools have each said they support the idea of teachers being given priority for vaccinations. So far, there is no indication by state authorities that teachers are being prioritized in the vaccination effort.