Berkeley wants teachers to be among first to get COVID vaccine

Bay Area

BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) – One East Bay school district is calling on state leaders to let teachers be among the first to receive the new vaccine. 

They say teachers are essential workers and protecting them against COVID-19 would clear a huge hurdle in getting children back into the classrooms. 

During its school board meeting, the Berkeley School Board passed a resolution that calls on Governor Gavin Newsom and lawmakers, to include teachers at the top of the priority list of those receiving the vaccine.  

The district’s top educator says protecting teachers against the vaccine is an important step in getting kids back in the classroom. 

Getting kids back in the classroom has been a top priority for a number of school districts across the Bay Area. 

School leaders in Berkeley say in order for it to happen safely, teachers need to be among the first vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The board is taking this action because we feel that educators play a pivotal role in our economy and vaccine availability can play a crucial role in school reopening,” Berkeley superintendent Dr. Brent Stephens said. 

On Wednesday, the Berkeley Unified School Board passed a resolution calling on Governor Newsom, and state lawmakers to give priority to teachers when it comes to the vaccine.  

“I understand that debates are taking place, and this question is starting to rise in Sacramento, but we’re hoping with the resolution to call attention to the needs of the public school system,” Stephens said. 

Stephens says he agrees with both the FDA and state guidelines prioritizing the vaccine for health care workers and nursing homes first. 

He’s hoping teachers can come right after that. 

“There’s then a very broad group of essential workers defined in both the guidance documents, and it’s in that we’re advocating that teachers have a special priority,” Stephens said. 

Stephens says there are still plenty of questions for the district to answers. 

How many vaccines will be needed? Will teachers take it? Will it be mandatory? 

“We don’t know at what rate teachers would be willing to take the vaccine, but we expect it to be very high. We don’t know if the state will contemplate a mandatory setting, and we’re not sure if we would, or should,” Stephens said. 

Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks and State Senator Nancy Wicks both represent Berkeley in the legislature. 

KRON4 reached out to both to get their thoughts on the district’s plan but so far, we have yet to hear back from them.

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