Educators in the First State should start getting vaccinated next week.
The State Department of Education (DOE) told school employees in an email Tuesday that vaccination events for educators will begin the week of Jan. 25.
Educators are eligible under vaccine distribution phase 1B, which the state entered Tuesday. The state Department of Education is coordinating vaccination of public and private school employees, which will follow a tiered approach based on risk level.
Some educators age 65 and over will get the chance to be vaccinated sooner through the state’s drive-through vaccination events for seniors Friday and this weekend. A total of 13,500 invitations have gone out to seniors as well as health care personnel for these events.
DOE is focused on vaccinating high-risk teachers and staff first. These include those with certain medical conditions and those who work with special populations who have a harder time maintaining distance and wearing masks.
Shelley Meadowcroft, director of public relations and communications with the Delaware State Education Association (DSEA), says the union backs prioritizing high-risk educators. They’re just waiting for more details.
“Those that are interested in getting vaccinated just want to know when and how quickly they can get in there,” Meadowcroft said. “It’s a matter of safety for them, and precautionary.”
DOE plans to offer drive-thru clinics, multiple school vaccination sites and pharmacy vaccination appointments. Details on where and when the events will be held have yet to be released.
DSEA sees these multiple options as positive.
“The more options the better, is how we view it,” Meadowcroft said. “Our educators are working crazy hours right now, because they’re answering parent emails until 10, 11 o’clock at night. So they need the ability to teach all day remotely if they’re home, and then make their way to a [vaccination] pod later in the evening.”
The second tier of educators to receive the vaccine will be those whose job responsibilities require them to routinely interact with students or members of the public either within a school building or out in the community. Educators and staff who can work remotely will be the last to be vaccinated.
The DOE vaccination sites will be open to all educators and school staff in public and private elementary, middle and high schools as well as district early learning centers in Delaware.
The operation of DOE’s vaccination sites will be dependent on the state's vaccine supply.
The state currently has only about a quarter of the doses needed to cover the roughly 200,000 seniors and frontline essential workers eligible under phase 1B. Other groups who will eventually get access to the vaccine under this phase include childcare workers, police, mail carriers and poultry workers.
Meadowcroft says the union is glad that educators are among the first categories of workers to get access to the vaccine.
“These are people that the state is asking their districts to put them back in buildings with children— many children in one small area, from many households— so making sure that those people that we're asking to do that have early access to the vaccine is appropriate,” she said.