Teachers Receive Covid Vaccines


Photo Credit: City of Philadelphia

Lisa Ross, Writer

On Tuesday, March 16, 95 prioritized LMTSD staff members received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. On March 3, Governor Tom Wolf announced that Pennsylvania would vaccinate for PreK-12 teachers and other school staff. Pennsylvania prioritized staff members with sustained in-person contact with students during the regular school day, including teachers and staff providing Pre-K and elementary instruction and special education. In a letter announcing the planned teacher vaccination, Superintendent Dr. Scott Davidheiser wrote, “The plan is to have all school staff, regardless of priority level, vaccinated by the end of March.” Several teachers have already received the vaccine independent of the state’s prioritization program.

At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, Lower Moreland School District opened with a hybrid option (2 days in-person) for students. The district took several safety measures such as proper ventilation, protective shields, sanitation and disinfection of all shared surfaces, proper distancing, and most importantly, mask-wearing and handwashing.

Three vaccines are currently approved and available to the public to prevent the infection and the spread of Covid-19, one produced by Pfizer, another by Moderna, and third by Johnson & Johnson. All vaccines are highly effective against the transmission of the virus and in preventing severe Covid-19. In our state, Governor Wolf’s administration and the state’s lawmakers formed a task force to accelerate getting Covid-19 shots into the arms of Pennsylvanians more rapidly. Currently, Pennsylvanians in Phase 1A–those that are over 65 or have specific medical conditions–are eligible to receive the vaccine. Now, nearly one million Pennsylvanians over 65 years old have received a vaccine. 22 percent of the state’s population has received at least one shot.

Teachers are not included in Phase 1A. Before Governor Wolf’s teacher prioritization plan, the priority was given to healthcare workers, vulnerable individuals, and people 65 years and older. Furthermore, the CDC recommends teachers be prioritized for vaccine allocation, but says vaccination “should not be considered a condition for reopening schools for in-person instruction.” Many teachers and their union representatives argue that they must be included in the essential category workers because they provide face-to-face instruction to large groups of students. 

The good news is that Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson have picked up the vaccines’ production pace and distribution. A new study suggests that 3 feet of distancing may be enough to reopen school safely, though the CDC has not yet updated its guidance. The Biden Administration projects that the US will have enough vaccines to supply and administer to all American adults by May 1. The hope is for a relaxing summer and safe school reopenings for the fall of 2021 in every part of the country.