According to Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley some prekindergarten to second grade teachers may take the coronavirus vaccine before they return to their schools next week.
“We will certainly not have all of those teachers vaccinated by then, but I don’t think reopening the schools should depend on that. We are going to see how soon we can get teachers started. So it’s quite possible we could have some to start by then,” the commissioner said Tuesday.
As stated in a report by Chalkbeat, the school district confirmed that it would advocate for early-grade teachers to get vaccine priority. Prekindergarten to second grade teachers are slated to return to school buildings on Monday. Students in those grades whose families opted for in-person learning are slated to return to school buildings as of February 22.
Last month city officials said l they anticipated teachers would get access to the vaccine beginning on January 25. However, Farley cautioned that the city has a limited number of doses and a large number of people who qualify for vaccination during Phase 1B of the city’s plan.
Educators are considered frontline workers but currently must wait until others in the 1B group, such as first responders, corrections employees, transit workers, and those working with vulnerable populations, receive vaccines.
“When schools follow guidelines, the risk of spread will be low,” Farley said. “So yes, I’m confident we can do this safely and I think it’s very important for the teachers to come back even if they don’t have a vaccine by the time they are to come back.”
While teachers and school leaders are not yet eligible for the vaccine, school nurses, like other health care workers, have been able to sign up for weeks. The district and the city’s health department held a vaccine clinic for school nurses two weeks ago.