Teachers among expanded list of those eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine

State News

NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana is expanding who can get the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Thursday, Governor John Bel Edwards said beginning Monday, teachers, daycare workers and school support staff can get the vaccine.

The Louisiana Department of Education has been pushing for educators and school staff to be eligible for the vaccine. The state believes this will be a key role in keeping schools open for in-person learning.

Priority access was requested for roughly 167,000 people.

Now, this does not mean they will all get the vaccine immediately. School distrcits will still rely on the state and the Louisiana Department of Health to determine how the vaccines will be distributed.

The state will not mandate educators get the vaccine; they’re calling it a personal decision for each person.

State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley said, “You have systems and childhood centers who have worked to identify partnerships with pharmacies, clinics and hospitals and they’ve had discussions about how this might happen whether it’s on site at the school or if employees can go offsite to receive the vaccine. We feel most of our systems know the quantity of the vaccine they will need because we asked them to have that number available in the event that today happened.”

Dr. Brumley said there are no plans to incetivice educators to get the vaccine.

Tonight at 10 on WGNO, we speak with an educator who is excited about the vaccine and she explains why she will incentive the shot for her staff.

Full statement from the Louisiana Department of Education:

Governor John Bel Edwards announced today that Louisiana will begin vaccinating early childhood center workers and K-12 educators and support staff Monday. State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley released the following statement in support of the Governor’s decision.

“I’m grateful and relieved to know our early childhood workers, as well as k-12 educators and school staff, now have access to this vaccine. This signifies the value of our essential employees and will enable even more Louisiana centers and schools to be fully open to serve students, families and communities. I extend my thanks to Governor Edwards, the Louisiana Department of Health and our state’s medical professionals for working alongside us throughout this pandemic and for making our educational community a priority. Although not perfect, Louisiana has managed to maintain an early childcare system and a k-12 educational program throughout this pandemic.”

Dr. Brumley first requested priority vaccine access for educators and staff in a December 12, 2020 letter to LDH Secretary Dr. Courtney Phillips, copied to Governor Edwards. This request drew national attention being one of the first official requests of its kind as it included priority access not just for k-12 teachers and staff but for early childcare center workers as well. This letter was followed by similar requests from advocates across the state. According to the latest data available on the Department’s School Reopening Dashboard, 67 percent of students are participating in fully in-person instruction, 20 percent are fully virtual and around 13 percent are in a hybrid setting.

For over a month, the Department has been working with local systems to develop vaccine distribution plans to help ensure equitable access to these voluntary vaccines and vaccine information. This guidance included identifying the total number of vaccinations needed for their school system as well as recommending that systems coordinate with vaccine partners such as a hospital, clinic, pharmacy, Public Health Office or other entity.

Full statement from NOLA Public Schools:

NOLA Public Schools (NOLA-PS) salutes and supports Gov. John Bel Edwards’ announcement today that pre-K through 12th grade teachers and on-site school support staff will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, Feb. 22.

“Since vaccinations began, we have waited patiently for this exciting news,” NOLA-PS Superintendent Dr. Henderson Lewis Jr. said. “We want our teachers and on-site school support staff safe and healthy, and so we will now do our part to help them gain access to these important shots as supplies and time allow.”

Following today’s announcement, NOLA-PS will leverage relationships with our healthcare partners, including the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), LCMC Children’s Hospital, and others, to help our schools schedule vaccinations for the newly eligible employees in the District. We will also work closely with our school leaders to keep them fully apprised of the vaccine options available as these efforts continue.

The vaccination process will take time to establish and execute and be limited by local health care partners’ vaccine supply and capacity. We encourage our NOLA-PS families to contact their own health care providers as another method to gain access to vaccinations.

We will provide more information in the coming days as planning around vaccinations progresses. Meanwhile, NOLA-PS will continue to rely on the safety guidelines in its Roadmap to Reopening that have mitigated spread within our schools and allowed us to be one of the few school districts in the country to maintain in-person learning for much of this school year.

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