When will teachers be vaccinated?
Over the many months of this lingering pandemic, we’ve heard a consistent message from the governor’s office: New Jersey public schools should be open, if they can safely be open.
Yet, we’ve also heard this contrary message: Teachers, as well as others who work in New Jersey’s public schools, are not a priority for the COVID vaccine.
Adding to that mixed message is the quandary facing the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey, as well as other public school districts serving students with severe disabilities. We are asked to work with the most medically-fragile population in a face to face setting, yet we are still not warranted any priority status for the vaccine.
Such an alarming fact places our school community in a ludicrous position, and sends a message from Trenton that those who work with children with the direst challenges are not afforded the same priority as other front-line heroes in New Jersey.
We have no idea when our teachers and support staff will be inoculated, nor if there is any real talk of when children with disabilities will have the opportunity to get the vaccine to stay safe.
As this state steadily works toward achieving normalcy, let’s not forget the challenges that the disability community faced long before this pandemic and will continue to face long afterward.
Ensuring healthy teachers helps keep our classrooms open so our students can learn the basic skills they require to live independent lives. When will the state recognize our significance?
Mark Finkelstein The writer is Superintendent of Schools, Educational Services Commission of New Jersey.