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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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HARRISBURG, PA (Feb. 11, 2021) – Pennsylvania education associations representing educators, support professionals, superintendents, business managers, principals, intermediate units, career and technical school administrators, and school boards today called on Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration to make providing the COVID-19 vaccine to school staff a priority.
In a letter signed by the leaders of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, Pennsylvania Principals Association, Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, Pennsylvania Intermediate Units, Pennsylvania Association of Career and Technical Administrators, AFT Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania School Boards Association to Gov. Wolf, acting health secretary Alison Beam, and acting education secretary Noe Ortega, the associations strongly encouraged the administration to prioritize providing the COVID-19 vaccine to Pennsylvania’s educators, support staff, and school administrators.
They noted that “ensuring that the men and women who teach and serve Pennsylvania’s children receive the vaccine as soon as possible is absolutely essential if we are to reopen our state’s schools for in-person instruction and return to normal operations when the 2021-22 school year begins.”
In their letter, the association leaders pointed out that: “Unlike 26 other states, Pennsylvania’s vaccination plan does not prioritize school staff members, even though school staff members and students are in a uniquely dangerous position. For those who are delivering in-person instruction, they are gathered in reasonably large groups every day. For those who are preparing to return to school in person, many are very concerned that the state’s health and safety guidelines, particularly the guidance related to maintaining 6 feet of social distance in school buildings, may be extremely difficult to implement or enforce.
“The best way to reduce health risks in schools and reduce reliance on social distancing guidelines is to vaccinate school staff members as soon as possible.”
The association leaders added that prioritizing the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to school staff will help Pennsylvania schools to open for in-person instruction and make it safer to bring more students back to their classrooms.
“Across Pennsylvania, we know school staff members are anxious about being in close contact with others for 7 hours a day. We also know that many parents want to get their children back into school so that they don’t miss the in-person instruction that every student deserves. Of course, everyone is hoping to return to normal operations when the 2021-22 school year begins.
“By prioritizing providing the COVID-19 vaccine to school staff members, we can address all of these issues and we can do it quickly. This will offer a new level of safety and confidence for staff members, students, and their families, and help speed the safe reopening of all of Pennsylvania’s schools for in-person instruction.”