Teachers, preparing for students in the classroom, want to move up in vaccine line

Posted February 4, 2021 6:27 p.m. EST
Updated February 4, 2021 7:49 p.m. EST

— Starting on Feb. 15, Wake County teachers and students will return for in-person learning. Many teachers have expressed concerns, saying it’s not safe yet.

​"I can’t imagine being a system that large and not feeling that fear and not feeling that apprehension so my heart goes out to those folks," said Tonya Smith, a member of the North Carolina Association of Educators.

Smith is a high school teacher in Elkin, in western North Carolina, and she has been back in the classroom on a modified plan since October.

"We have had, of course, as everyone, some cases but not huge outbreaks because our system is very small," Smith said.

According to the state’s vaccine roll-out plan, frontline workers, like teachers, are the next group in line for a COVID-19 vaccine.

"I’d love to see us moved up a little bit if possible, especially for the bigger counties with such large number of students," Smith said.

Davie County was one of the first to get many of its teachers vaccinated, and that is something teachers would like to see done in other counties. However, Davie County has about 400 teachers, compared to Wake County which has more than 10,000 teachers.

On Thursday, Dr. Mandy Cohen, state secretary of health and human services said North Carolina should have enough vaccine to begin vaccinating the third phase of residents, which includes teachers, in a couple of weeks.

Gov. Roy Cooper also announced a proposed one-time bonus for educators for their hard work and dedication.

"We’re continuing to push the administration hard to get us more vaccine in North Carolina," he said. "We want to get to teachers and other essential workers as quickly as we possibly can."

"I’d love to get my vaccine – 100% yes – but, I wouldn’t want to take it away from someone that has life-threatening issues," Smith said.

Lisa Luten, the spokeswoman for Wake County schools says the district continues to advocate for teachers to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

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