SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms title=
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms
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By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers

Union leaders representing 1500 Santa Barbara Unified School District teachers and staff workers asked county public health officials Wednesday to modify the Covid-19 vaccine rollout to prioritize their members who have been ordered back to classrooms on Feb. 26

"We urge Santa Barbara County decision-makers to prioritize, with immediacy, the offering of vaccines to school personnel," Karen McBride, president of the Santa Barbara Teachers Association, and Paul Rooney, president of the California School Employees Association Local 37, said in a letter to top officials of the Public Health Department.

"It seems that with a well-coordinated plan, within two or three days, SBUSD school staff could receive vaccines," said the letter, the text of which is below.

The call for vaccines for teachers is a local expression of what has become a nationwide push for school personnel to be moved to the head of the line, as parents and communities increasingly demand that classrooms reopen, not only because of the academic learning loss associated with distance learning, but also because of mental health and behavioral issues associated with kids being confined at home for nearly a year as the pandemic spread.

Although the Centers for Disease Control has said teacher vaccinations are not a prerequisite for a return to classrooms, President Joe Biden on Tuesday night became the latest official to call for educators to be a priority.

Nationwide, a new Morning Consult poll reported that 55 percent of voters say teachers should be inoculated before schools reopen; by a huge 76-to-18 percent margin, a Quinnipiac University survey shows, Americans in all states say teachers should be given priority in receiving vaccines.

Responding to the letter, a statement from the SB Public Health Department called, "the limited supply of vaccines...an immediate barrier to the vaccination of educators" and indicated there would be no change in its current distribution protocol. The department's complete statement is below.

Vaccinating educators will be a significant step to protect students and staff and we welcome the opportunity to do so. It is frustrating that the limited supply of vaccines are an immediate barrier to the vaccination of educators. As a county, we are vaccinating target groups following the guidance of the California Department of Public Health and the recommendations of the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.

In an interview, McBride noted that the district has ordered hundreds of elementary school teachers and staffers back to work at the end of the month, when some 3,500 K-6 students are to return to classrooms several days a week as part of a hybrid learning program. The district is awaiting final approval from the state for its planned Feb. 26 return.

"If you're going to mandate them to return, make the vaccine available to those you are mandating," she said.

Amid a supply shortage, the county so far has been vaccinating health-care workers and residents 75 years and older; those 65 and over this week were allowed to begin trying to schedule a vaccination but appointments are few and waiting lists are long. Under the current system, teachers will have to wait weeks or months for a vaccine, while interacting not only with students but also with adult colleagues in close quarters once schools reopen, McBride noted.

The letter, addressed to Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso and Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg, noted that local officials in Long Beach in January adjusted their vaccine priority list to provide shots for teachers there, and that SBUSD officials have offered to provide locations and logistical assistance for such a program here.

"We have seen examples of cities like ours that have effectively prioritized school staff for vaccinations," the letter said. "Protecting this essential group of adults would profoundly affect tens of thousands of citizens in our community who are connected to public schools."

In the interview, McBride cited a survey of parents that she said showed 23 percent of those eligible to send their kids back to school plan to keep them on the full-time distance learning program, a number she said would likely diminish if families felt safer because of teacher vaccinations.

McBride also said that a survey of her members showed that 77 percent were "uncomfortable or very uncomfortable" with returning to class because of fears they would contract the virus.

You can watch our interview with Karen McBride via YouTube below or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here.

Here is the text of the letter the teachers and school employees union leaders sent to county public health officials.
 
 

Here is the statement in response from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

Vaccinating educators will be a significant step to protect students and staff and we welcome the opportunity to do so. It is frustrating that the limited supply of vaccines are an immediate barrier to the vaccination of educators. As a county, we are vaccinating target groups following the guidance of the California Department of Public Health and the recommendations of the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.

In the past year, we have learned what activities are effective at limiting transmission of the virus and providing a safe educational environment. Young students, especially those under the age of about 12, have much lower levels of transmission and severe illness. The protective measures of face coverings, physical distance, handwashing, ventilation, and contact tracing have been exceptionally effective. Since last September, we have had 32 schools return to in-person instruction under elementary waivers and there are also some secondary schools that also opened in Santa Barbara County when we were in the Red Tier. The number of COVID-19 cases in these schools is low and the majority of cases have been among adult staff who bring the virus from the community to the school setting.

We will continue the high prioritization of educators for vaccination. We are hopeful that a new vaccine will be approved by the FDA soon and that increasing numbers of doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped to our community. We are committed to distributing the vaccine doses broadly and opening up vaccinations for educators as soon as the vaccine supply allows.

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sb93105 Feb 21, 2021 06:26 AM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

the teachers and their very powerful union have blood on their hands shame on them - what an utter disgrace - millions of children are being affected in multiple ways. - what a total joke , covid is nothing more than a political weapon -

SBLetsGetAlong Feb 20, 2021 05:19 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

"The number of COVID-19 cases in these schools is low and the majority of cases have been among adult staff who bring the virus from the community to the school setting."

The excuse of teachers being underpaid & unappreciated is the same rhetoric used for frontline e workers like police and firefighters.

But they still showed up for work.

Look, EVERYONE knows that these are not high paying jobs. So don’t become a teacher or firefighter. Snd if you do, don’t complaint the pay sucks, you knew that before you took your first job.

If teachers union says teachers are essential frontline workers, why have they not demonstrated that. 31 other schools in SB demonstrated that they are true frontline workers.

CDC says vaccinations are not necessary. But the teachers unions knows better than the CDC & WHO.

If any teachers are to be vaccinated it should be those that have been showing g up to work with kids.

citizenSB Feb 20, 2021 09:29 AM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

Starting March 1 Newsom is reserving 10% of vaccines for teachers --
Seems the comorbidity patients and grocery store workers have lost out to the $1,3M Teachers union donation to his campaign.

dukemunson Feb 20, 2021 09:55 AM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

Considering the governor handed them a blank check and committed to getting teachers (young and old) the vaccine before people more needy and at risk... a small donation and the their pledge of support is the LEAST they could do.

It won’t happen, but it sure would be nice if more people recognized this and started to see the teachers union endorsement as a signal to vote for ANYONE ELSE!!!

dukemunson Feb 20, 2021 07:56 AM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

It will be interesting to learn what the ransom (“hefty financial incentive”) payment to the teachers (and their union) will end up being. Refusing to acknowledge science and restart is quite unsurprisingly paying off for them...they are jumping the vaccine line and being paid extra. Great to hear that my 70 year old co-worker who’s been at work every day with me is now behind my kids 28 year old teacher!

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/live/2021/02/19/world/covid-19-coronavirus.amp.html

“ The governor, who faces a recall effort over the state’s lockdowns, was also responding to fellow Democrats who control the Legislature and who on Thursday introduced a fast-track bill to reopen schools by April 15, using prioritized vaccines for teachers and hefty financial incentives.”

Lorax Feb 19, 2021 07:23 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

The first post, Voice of Reason nailed it!
Good job SBPHD going toe to toe with these thugs. This is so pathetic and shameful that the schools in the Santa Barbara Public School District have been and continue to be used as political pawns.
Remember vote out every incumbent at the next School Board Election.
The SBPHD pointed out there were 32 schools that opened in the fall . They never closed .
Because of their Political Priorities, families and many students have suffered and are in a terrible possition with delayed learning , developmental and mental problems not to mention finacial impacts particularly with the most vounerable populations because this School Board and Superintendent chose not open in the fall along with all the other 32 schools in the area.

mkc223 Feb 18, 2021 09:05 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

I feel it's far more important that child care providers and early childhood educators get vaccinated before K-12 teachers. I'm a preschool teacher (kids 2-5 years) and have been working since June. Most centers I know of have been open face-to-face since August. K-12 teachers don't have to potty train their students or assist them in the bathroom, and rarely have their students cough or sneeze in their face. Social distancing in childcare is just not possible. While I acknowledge that everyone has had to make sacrifices and wish everyone in the world could get vaccinated at the same time, when it comes to vaccinating educators, let's give priority to childcare providers who have been risking their health every single day for months to provide an essential service to so many families in our community.

mkc223 Feb 19, 2021 12:41 AM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

This is totally true, and I apologize for not including special education and paraeducators. I don’t mean to insinuate that any teacher isn’t important or doesn’t deserve to be vaccinated either. I should rephrase my suggestion. Educators that have already been working face to face with multiple children for many months should have priority to the vaccine. And, similar to your point, this should apply to ALL educators, including early childhood educators. Not just K-12.

SBeducator2 Feb 18, 2021 09:39 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

Actually, there are current k-12 special educators who feed, change, assist with healthcare, etc. Also, some teachers have students with challenging behaviors who can’t social distance. There are lots of different types of educators that need consideration and prioritization.

sbres Feb 18, 2021 08:52 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

Teachers/school workers have been vaccinated in San Bernardino County, Riverside County, Long Beach, Sacramento County and are now beginning to be vaccinated in LAUSD - just to name a few. My 79 year mother would have missed out on being vaccinated if I didn't get on it as soon as appointments opened and we are driving to Santa Maria this weekend to get my 65+ husband vaccinated because there were ZERO appointments available in Santa Barbara. Something is very wrong here.......

klm Feb 18, 2021 08:16 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

Teachers that have been in the classroom with kids should absolutely get the vaccine! THAT is what should prioritize you...vaccinate all of the private school and charter school teachers!! They’re at school and engaging with kids. The rest who have no contact with students should wait until they’ve agreed to reopen ALL schools!

klm Feb 18, 2021 08:02 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

Karen McBride and the rest of these “union” leaders should be ashamed! Purposely not wanting to be considered essential for the last 10 months until now! Now they want to be prioritized. Get back to the classroom...stop your whining and do your jobs. Sympathy from the public is running out. Jump the line...get your damn vaccines with the understanding you go back to teaching kids in the classroom. No other professional group has whimpered and whined as much as the teachers! Enough.

JB86 Feb 18, 2021 07:17 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

This is at minimum 'bad optics' for teachers and their unions. It can only promote school-of-choice, which I suspect more parents are supporting now. Private and Charter schools are flourishing in this environment, and will continue to do unless throttled by politicians, which the unions will promote. Most people aren't rabid about general government functions, but the education of their children is a visceral issue. Screw this up and even Democratic electees could find themselves out of a job.

SBeducator2 Feb 18, 2021 04:32 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

There’s been a group of SBUSD special educators and para educators working in person since the last week of September/first week of October with no discussion of prioritizing vaccinations. Why now?

SBlifer805 Feb 18, 2021 02:32 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

What a slap in the face to those who have been out working this entire time. A teacher who sits at home on zoom should be vaccinated before people who have been out working everyday since last March? What an embarrassment. Part of me hopes schools can’t pull it together to open and the system collapses under its own weight. Rebuilding California’s public education system from scratch seems less complicated than trying to reinstate the system in place prior to covid.

dukemunson Feb 19, 2021 09:15 AM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

It would be nice to have more options. We’ve got some interesting charter school options that aren’t religious or right wing in any capacity (trivium, adelante, the proposed Thoreau school, etc) and I’d be in favor of more! For instance, I’ve always been opposed to the 815 start... kids need sleep! It would be nice if there was a school option that was 5 hours per day instead of 7.... and had a lot more outside time in the schedule.

sbdude Feb 18, 2021 08:29 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

Vouchers for private schools have always been the holy grail for people who for whatever reason are biased against public schools. IMO a private school should be able to take taxpayer money as vouchers only if they do the following: Take every kid, no matter how high or low the kid is. Turning away a kid for any reason would not be allowed. They will have to hire only fully credentialed teachers. They would have to be accredited by WASC. Their rules for suspension and expulsion will be exactly the same as public schools. They must provide at no cost all the special services they have to provide to any kid who has the right to receive those services. If private schools did all these things I would suspect their attractiveness would drop rapidly.

SBsurferlife Feb 18, 2021 04:49 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

@VOR, I'll comment without anonymity since you seem to think I'm someone else. That's the fun part about being a paid subscriber, anonymity! You should subscribe since you seem to spend all day commenting and reading on this site, support local and all. Anyway, my comment about receiving a check without having children in school is a valid one. It's a slippery slope when residents can decide where their tax money goes. "I never drive to in this area of town so my tax dollars shouldn't fix those roads," etc etc. I agree there are issues with the school system but it's not as easy to fix as handing out vouchers. The systems are in place, let's fix them.

Voice of Reason Feb 18, 2021 04:42 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

Sac, well giving them more money hasn't helped open schools nor has it improved testing scores over the years. If a private school is struggling, or not achieving adequate testing scores, parents are free to take their children elsewhere. Shouldn't public school families get the same choice rather than be forced to attend underperforming schools (that aren't even open!)? The whole point of funding public schools is to educate children, that is the goal. Creating a public funded institution for adults to work and get a nice retirement isn't the goal. I think you'll like school choice, read up a little on it and we can chat later.

To the anonymous poster at 4:08. Wow, just wow. And you can't help yourself but to demean and call people names yet others are the whacko? I'm surprised Edhat allows you to keep posting.

mp805 Feb 18, 2021 03:59 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

Did you see West Virginia house just passed a bill today to fund students instead of systems... I think its HB2013 WV. Families would be able to take their children's education dollars to the education provider of their choosing: private school, tutoring, testing/instructional materials, Special needs therapies and any other approved education expenses. Need to read more about it but sounds interesting.

Voice of Reason Feb 18, 2021 03:41 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

Of course not, and it isn't a check but a voucher to be used at accredited schools. You don't get a refund now for the portion of your property taxes that go to public education. You know this, you just like to poke, and you're not even very good at it.

Voice of Reason Feb 18, 2021 03:10 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

No need to rebuild the system SBLIFER, just offer school choice and let the educational dollars our taxes provide follow the student. Instead of giving SBUSD $13K per student the parents get a $13K voucher to use at any accredited school in the county.

sacjon Feb 18, 2021 11:01 AM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

So, what happens if the County does not immediately prioritize teachers, as their response seems to suggest? Was the letter from the union just a hopeful attempt to get vaxxed, or was it a veiled threat to not return to school once we're allowed to? I have a feeling the union won't back down so easily.

citizenSB Feb 18, 2021 10:21 AM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

Unfortunately most of us know someone that died due to COVID and deaths have affected all careers. I think doing it by oldest first is the fairest, while not perfect, way that it can be done. Although I do worry about people with active cancer and other immune depressed diseases with will start March 15. I also worry that CA is not prioritizing people in jail which has been a hotbed for COVID.
Where should teachers be prioritized with these 2 groups?
Doing the rollout by age is easy to understand and the more vaccines we get the faster we can get to everyone.

hz Feb 18, 2021 10:17 AM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

bosco..I hope you are front of the line offering to help teach when the schools open up. The district has been hiring...multiple positions and no need to worry about catching the virus...right. Thank you so much for stepping into the classrooms.

bosco Feb 18, 2021 02:31 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

HZ. I've been working non-stop since the start of the pandemic (not cowering at home). I have been involved with the community and businesses writing safety plans and establishing pandemic protocols. I have been involved with COVID/Pandemic response plans since before you probably new COVID existed. My spouse is a healthcare professional working in COVID units. Me and my family's lives have been nothing but dealing with the Pandemic, the response and managing our risk. It's about time you and the teachers get with the program.

dukemunson Feb 18, 2021 11:26 AM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

HZ - I've volunteered in my kids classes...but obviously when they reopen they wont be allowing any non student or staff on campus for awhile. But what is your point? Pretty much everyone else is at work and as such "at risk"...why are teachers the only ones that can hold out forever? The science has shown it's less safe to keep schools closed...to go along with spectacularly detrimental to the kids and society at large. Follow the science and open the schools up ASAP!

PitMix Feb 18, 2021 10:06 AM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

What number of dead and injured long-term teachers are we willing to live with if the schools reopen as the virus spread is still high? As far as I can find, no one is guaranteeing that the number will be 0.

"In Montgomery, Alabama, four educators died within 48 hours in January, spurring the city’s district to go remote starting Feb. 1."

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2021/02/07/reopening-schools-debates-teachers-fear-covid-19/4413729001/

sblocal1967 Feb 18, 2021 02:32 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

PITMIX - all of these teachers who died had an inconclusive cause of death. Prior to Covid I am sure there were a number of teachers who died every week due to a variety of reasons. Most likely poor health was involved. Just speculating.

dukemunson Feb 18, 2021 11:19 AM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

The demand of 0 is obviously insane...there will never be a guarantee of zero. All the science points to schools needing to open ASAP...your position (keep closed seemingly in perpetuity) is the obvious worse and more dangerous position. So how many more people are you willing to let get sick because school ISN'T in session Pit????

Voice of Reason Feb 18, 2021 11:17 AM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

Good to hear Sac. It wouldn't have been easy to implement but focusing on people who live in multi-generational housing and/or multiple families, worker bunk type housing (i.e. most of the ag workers) versus 65+ year olds that are able to self-isolate would get us to our goal of reducing the spread much faster.

sacjon Feb 18, 2021 11:13 AM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

PITMIX - the virus spread is NOT still high. We've dropped significantly over the past couple weeks down to 27 cases per 100K as of today. We've had less than 100 new cases per day for the past couple days. It's slowing down. How much longer do you want our kids to wait?

Voice of Reason Feb 18, 2021 10:27 AM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

Probably the same number of dead and injured long-term grocery store workers, agriculture workers, food processors, distributions center workers, and other groups that are critical to getting food from the field to our fridge. And regarding that article, did you even read it? Those weren't covid deaths (the article you posted references an article about the Alabama teachers, that's journalism these days SMH). I also prefer this quote from the article: "On Wednesday, the local American Academy of Pediatrics chapter countered that schools should reopen immediately because the social isolation, anxiety and lack of structure are “causing undue harm” to children." I highly value our communities teachers, but I value our communities children more.

LooseCannon Feb 18, 2021 06:21 PM
SB Teachers Plead for Vaccines as School Re-Opening Looms

The teachers will demand the vaccine for themselves for schools to reopen, then once vaccinated, they will move the goalposts and demand that everyone in their family get vaccinated. It's like a mise-en-abyme. Endless delays.

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