PSEA wants its members to be prioritized in the vaccine rollout

Written by on February 19, 2021

PSEA wants its members to be prioritized in the vaccine rollout

By  Julia Agos / WITF

February 19, 2021

University of Pittsburgh Pharmacy student Edith Wang loads a syringe with a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine, during a vaccination clinic hosted by the University of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny County Health Department at the Petersen Events Center, in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

While some teacher’s unions are taking a hardline approach on members getting vaccinated before they head back into the classroom, Pennsylvania’s largest educator’s coalition is taking a more flexible stance. 

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The Pennsylvania State Education Association is calling for vigorous public health measures in schools including consistent masking and social distancing, making sure school districts are maintaining strict mitigation efforts. 

PSEA also wants teachers to be prioritized ​for the COVID-19 vaccine, but notes it’s not a prerequisite for returning to full-time, in-person learning.

 “Overcrowded classrooms, overcrowded cafeterias,  kids in hallways very close to each other, these are all things that put us at greater risk of spreading the virus within our school buildings and that’s something we really want to avoid,” Lilienthal says.

Teachers are slated to be next in line for the vaccine in the 1B classification of the state’s rollout along with clergy and postal workers. 

But the association sees a way to start vaccinating teachers now without upending the whole process.

“Taking a portion of the vaccine and setting it aside for teachers so we can get that process going now. And while it may take a number of weeks to occur, we think there is a way to have this running on a parallel track along with everything else,” Lilienthal says.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education did not respond to requests for comment. 

The Wolf administration maintains a limited vaccine supply is the main cause for the stunted rollout. 

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