California plans to begin setting aside 10% of the COVID-19 vaccine the state receives each week to vaccinate teachers, daycare workers, and other school employees to get more students back in physical classrooms.
“It must be done, and it must be done much sooner than the current path we are on. And we believe this will advance that cause,” Governor Gavin Newsom said as he announced the plan at an Oakland vaccination site.
The plan will begin March 1 by setting aside about 75,000 vaccine doses from the state’s current weekly allotment, Newsom added.
The vaccine will be used to inoculate “the ecosystem that is required to reopen our schools for in-person instruction,” including teachers, daycare workers, and other public school employees, such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers.
Most of the state’s large school districts have been teaching students remotely for most of the school year. However, 35 of California’s counties are already prioritizing vaccinating teachers and other educators.
“We want to operationalize that as a standard for all 58 counties in the state,” Newsom said
The issue of vaccinating teachers has become one of the most contentious issues as the nation grapples with the pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidelines for how schools can safely offer in-person learning recommend vaccinating school staff but do require it.
A representative of the California Teachers Association described the 10% allotment as “an important step to ensuring teachers and school staff have to access to the vaccine before opening schools and worksites for in-person instruction.”