Florida superintendent urges quick teacher vaccinations
Teachers and school employees should be declared essential workers and prioritized for COVID vaccinations in order to keep classrooms open, a Florida superintendent says.
Officials should strongly consider vaccinating teachers after health care workers and older residents receive their shots, School District of Palm Beach County Superintendent Donald E. Fennoy II said this week.
“If personnel, particularly those who have direct student contact are given this designation, that will allow our schools to remain open and ensure continuous operation,” Fennoy wrote in a letter to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
However, at a school board meeting on Wednesday, Fennoy said Palm County officials were still figuring out whether they have enough vaccine to provide people over 65 with both required shots.
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He also noted that the school district would not have the refrigeration capacity to store its own vaccines.
“It is a big issue across this country, just having enough supply to even do it,” Fennoy said at the meeting.
Nationally, there has been a push to get teachers vaccinated, says Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association.
“I believe teachers will be next in n line for the next round,” Domenech told District Administration.
Biden’s school vaccine plan
Wide-scale, school-site COVID testing of students and staff appears to be a key part of Joe Biden’s hope of reopening classrooms within the first 100 days of his presidency.
The Biden-Harris transition team is formulating a plan to fund rapid, weekly testing of all students and school staff, Politico has reported.
The administration may be working on the initiative with the nonprofit Rockfeller Foundation, according to Politico. The organization has a developed a plan for massive COVID testing to reopen schools by March.
“Since it will take some time for vaccines to be widespread and ubiquitous, this new plan represents the most practical, pragmatic, and achievable plan to reopen K-12 education in America using the tools and tests we have to make public school classrooms the safest place to be outside of the home,” Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation, said in a statement.
More school testing
Meanwhile, districts across the country have ramped up testing of students and staff.
As of Wednesday, the district had tested 143 students and all were negative.
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On the other side of the country, Spokane Public Schools in Washington also launched a testing program Monday that will focus initially on students and staff showing symptoms, Spokane Public Radio reported.
The district intends to transition to regular surveillance testing for all students and staff members, the station reported.
The state of Massachusetts announced this week that it would begin conducting free pool testing over the next six weeks at any districts that want to participate.