Credit: Irfan Khan/ os Angeles Times/Polaris
Yolanda Javier, left, gives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a Los Angels resident at St. John's Well Child & Family Center in Jan. 2021.

A state effort to develop a more streamlined approach to vaccinating California residents against Covid-19 may get teachers their shots sooner.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the changes, which include a transition to an age-based eligibility system, in a press conference Monday. Starting next month, teachers and others in Phase 1B of the state’s vaccination priority list could begin to be vaccinated, even in counties where healthcare workers, who are in Phase 1A, are still being vaccinated. 

“Specifically, we believe that the cohort 65 and older needs to be prioritized alongside healthcare workers, first responders, food and agriculture workers and school staff and teachers,” said Newsom, in a press conference on Monday.

The plan — which will be rolled out uniformly across all 58 counties — will be implemented in mid-February pending vaccination availability, according to additional information released by the state Tuesday.

Phase IB includes emergency services employees, food and agriculture workers and people 65 and older, as well as teachers. But when they will actually get vaccinated will depend on how many vaccine doses come into the state and are made available in each county.

“We want to work through that cohort and continue to do what we can to vaccinate the vaccinators, our first responders, our farm workers, our critical workers on the front lines and our food delivery system and our teachers in order to get schools reopened as well as our support staff that’s so foundational, critical not to ever be forgotten as it relates to making schools work,” Newsom said Monday.

The announcement comes as school districts across California grapple with an unpredictable vaccine supply and a lack of statewide coordination in order to figure out how and when to vaccinate their teachers in order to reopen schools. The result has been wide disparities in how far along school districts in different parts of the state are in vaccinating school staff.

A letter sent to members of the Community Vaccine Advisory Committee from Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California surgeon general, and Dr. Erica Pan, state epidemiologist, on Monday says that while 2 million doses of vaccine have been administered the state has several challenges to overcome, including spotty data collection, a lack of statewide coordination among its 61 local health jurisdictions in regard to eligibility requirements and decentralized accountability.

“In short, there is no clear and easy way to tell people when it was their turn and where to go when it was,” says the letter.

The statewide plan is meant to address those issues, according to the letter.

This is the second time this month that Newsom has moved teachers higher on the state’s vaccination eligibility list in an effort to get schools reopened. In December the governor announced “Safe Schools for All,”an ambitious plan to reopen some schools as early as February.

In the meantime, school superintendents across the state continue to push to get their staffs vaccinated.

Last week all 13 Sacramento County school district superintendents and Sacramento County Office of Education Superintendent Dave Gordon signed a letter asking Newsom to prioritize vaccinating teachers and school staff over Covid-19 testing.

“The administration of vaccines is more critical than expanding the capacity or testing of staff and students as they will minimize the risk of infection for teachers and students returning to schools,” they wrote. “The lack of a coordinated vaccination plan for educators at the state and local level will prolong and inevitably jeopardize plans for the reopening of schools.”

The letter asks for the governor’s support to make vaccine doses available for teachers and school staff so that schools can reopen. Sacramento County school officials are developing a coordinated plan to vaccinate all school staff in the county within a “very short time frame” once vaccine doses are made available.

Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner has been pushing hard to be allowed to open vaccination clinics for staff, students and the community at schools in the state’s largest school district.

“There’s a unique and important benefit to vaccinating all who work in schools — doing so will help reopen schools sooner,” Beutner said Monday. “This will not only protect the health and safety of staff but will provide enormous benefit to children and their families with a faster reopening of schools and of the economy more broadly by enabling the working families we serve to go back to work.”

He expressed frustration at the slow rollout of vaccines, which he called critical to reopening schools.

“It’s not enough to just say the words ‘schools need to reopen.’ State and local government leaders need to match words with deeds — they must act to reduce the spread of the virus in the communities our schools serve, create a clear standard for a safe school that all can understand and quickly vaccinate school staff. Once that’s done, we’ll be at the school front door with big smiles (under our masks) to welcome students and their teachers back to classrooms where they belong.”

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  1. Susan Pereira 8 months ago8 months ago

    I don't understand why teachers and staff are getting vaccinated before folks with medical conditions that put them at increased risk of severe morbidity and mortality. Of the 400k+ folks that have died from covid-19.... ages 0 - 54, 30k+ have died, ages 55 - 64 , 50K+ have died, ages 65 - 74, 90K+ have died, and ages 75 - 84, 121K+ have died. So who is at most risk? Certainly not any of … Read More

    I don’t understand why teachers and staff are getting vaccinated before folks with medical conditions that put them at increased risk of severe morbidity and mortality.

    Of the 400k+ folks that have died from covid-19….
    ages 0 – 54, 30k+ have died,
    ages 55 – 64 , 50K+ have died,
    ages 65 – 74, 90K+ have died, and
    ages 75 – 84, 121K+ have died.

    So who is at most risk? Certainly not any of the teachers that are 54 years and under, but they will get the vaccine over non-educators, the folks at most risk of severe complications or death.

    I just don’t understand the logic.

  2. Merry White 9 months ago9 months ago

    I was frustrated to learn that people working in veterinary clinics have received the vaccination but teachers have not. Why are we putting pets before children? I am completely baffled.

  3. Kes 9 months ago9 months ago

    I hope teachers includes college instructors, which are closed and also creating hardship for families and students, many of whom are first generation and in need of finishing their education.

  4. Sandra Fremgen 9 months ago9 months ago

    I think that they should be prioritizing teachers and staff that have been working in-person since September in some of the cities with the highest positivity rates. These articles make it sound like all schools are teaching virtually or in a hybrid model. Our school district has been back in-person 5 days a week for full days while students, staff and families have been contracting Covid-19. It is scary!

    We should have some priority in this process.

  5. Cheryl 9 months ago9 months ago

    I am a high school teacher and I am teaching in-person. I started teaching in-person in early November. My entire public school district in California is teaching in-person. I very much want to get vaccinated. I am not 65 years old, but I'm getting there, and I hope via my age, or my profession, being in contact daily with pandemic-fatigued students who are neglecting to keep their masks on properly, that … Read More

    I am a high school teacher and I am teaching in-person. I started teaching in-person in early November. My entire public school district in California is teaching in-person. I very much want to get vaccinated. I am not 65 years old, but I’m getting there, and I hope via my age, or my profession, being in contact daily with pandemic-fatigued students who are neglecting to keep their masks on properly, that I will receive my vaccine soon.

    Not all teachers in public schools in California are teaching from home via Zoom!

  6. ceace 9 months ago9 months ago

    It’s infuriating that teachers rank up there with doctors and first responders. Most are not in school and don’t plan to go back for months. What about those with cancer and diabetes? Sorry Newsome you lost my vote and my family members’ votes as well.

    Replies

    • Irina Cassady 9 months ago9 months ago

      We Pre-Voc teachers are coming back to teach in-person on Feb 16 and we haven’t been vaccinated. We don’t want to die.

  7. Brenda Lebsack 9 months ago9 months ago

    As a public school teacher, can I be honest? Zoom teaching is a joke. It is difficult to assure participation. Young students, especially who have cognitive disabilities, think they are just watching TV. Many of my students are in their pajamas during class, some in their bed. I try many methods to inspire, encourage, motivate, but it's not the same as in person. Honestly though, teaching via zoom , … Read More

    As a public school teacher, can I be honest? Zoom teaching is a joke. It is difficult to assure participation. Young students, especially who have cognitive disabilities, think they are just watching TV. Many of my students are in their pajamas during class, some in their bed. I try many methods to inspire, encourage, motivate, but it’s not the same as in person. Honestly though, teaching via zoom , in many ways, is a lot easier for teachers. Dealing with behavior problems or classroom discipline is minimal via Zoom as compared to in person. There’s no commute time, no traffic. And the time of direct instruction per day is significantly less, for most teachers. Academic accountability has been watered down significantly, so the pressure is off, but so is academic performance.

    I have friends who have lost their businesses during this pandemic, so I feel guilty that my union (of which I recently exited) is pressuring school board members for stipends and even raises during this time. It’s disgusting. If we are “in this together” then why do union employees get preferred treatment? Why do union education jobs (classified staff included) have such job security, no matter what, when we are not fully “serving our customers” such as the taxpayers.

    This is why we need school choice. Educational alternatives should not only be for the “rich.” It’s obvious that unions have monopolized education and their monopolization has led to corrupt greed and an abuse of power. It’s time for reform and for parents (taxpayers) to say enough!

  8. Lara Gallistel 9 months ago9 months ago

    Many Riverside County school teachers were emailed directly by school leadership website links to get Vaccines today. To boot, these teachers have been advised that they do not have to return to “In Person” until the 2021/22 year in August 2021. This is infuriating! Why is this even an option?!

  9. JudiAU 9 months ago9 months ago

    Teachers, any type, should not have priority unless they are committing to teaching in person. Immediately. No excuses. As the parent of three children I have been willing to do god awful virtual learning for almost a year to keep everyone safe. But if you don’t turn around and walk into a classroom after being vaccinated and start to teach the children you are being paid to teach, no parent will support you again, for any reason.

  10. Ray Ramos 9 months ago9 months ago

    Newsom is hopping to kill all the older population 65 and older to have more available shots for his union driving teachers and schools staff. That is the reason we need to take you out of office. A disgrace of governing our state.