One of the ongoing debates in America right now is whether or not kids should be in school or continue to learn from home. One of the biggest arguments against students going back to school is the safety of the teachers. Many feel they are being asked to risk their health when it is not actually necessary. And now, with the CDC suggesting that teachers can actually teach safely without a vaccine, those accusations have only grown.
The rollout of the vaccine has thrown yet another complicated element into the already heated discussion, as some states have allowed teachers to be among those who first receive the vaccine for their safety and their status as front line workers, while other states have excluded teachers while trying to keep schools open.
Not sure if your state is vaccinating its teachers or not? A map, created by The New York Times with existing data can help, as it shows which states have not made teachers eligible for receiving the vaccination, along with the average daily cases per 100,000 people in the past week.
The NYT map found that at least 24 states (along with Washington D.C.) are “providing shots to some teachers of kindergarten through high school,” though some states, like West Virginia and Montana, have certain restrictions on which teachers can actually be vaccinated. While that might sound reasonable, it actually just gets worse.
The 26 remaining states have not allowed teachers to be among those who are able to receive the vaccination, despite states like Texas and Florida ordering schools to “reopen for in-person learning” and threatening to withhold funding if they don’t. This is particularly egregious considering Texas has one of the highest infection rates in the entire country. The Grey Lady’s interactive map is worth checking out on your own.
The Times reported that over half of the 15 counties with the worst COVID-19 outbreaks are in the Lone Star state alone — and with teachers there putting their health and lives on the line, it would make sense that vaccines go to them.
Despite these alarming numbers, many still insist that schools can be reopened safely without putting the teachers’ health at risk, including Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for [the] safe reopening of schools,” she said during a White House briefing on Wednesday. It’s hard to imagine that the vaccine wouldn’t help them be safer.
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