Maryland Schools Superintendent Karen Salmon and Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith said Tuesday they would like to see education employees be some of the first people to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
The FDA approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday and Gov. Larry Hogan announced at a press briefing Tuesday that every Maryland hospital is set to receive vaccine doses over the next two weeks.
In a letter to Dr. Jinlene Chan—the Maryland Department of Health’s acting deputy secretary of public health services—Salmon wrote that “the safety and education of our children demand immediate attention.” She is calling on the state health department to prioritize teachers, school staff, childcare workers when it comes to receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
For this reason, we are requesting that they be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine in the earliest stages of distribution to essential employees.”
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— Maryland State Department of Education (@MdPublicSchools) December 15, 2020
In Maryland, people who work in critical, essential infrastructure roles—such as education—are listed under the state’s group 2 priority phase.
“It is essential that we return to full or hybrid instructional models for the overall wellbeing and success of our prekindergarten through grade 12 students. Prolonged school closures have resulted in our children experiencing diminished academic achievement and social-emotional distress,” Salmon said in the letter. “We care about all of our education and child care professionals, many of whom have continued to work on the frontline throughout the pandemic, and we are requesting that they be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine in the earliest stages of distribution to essential employees.”
When asked about vaccines at an MCPS press briefing Tuesday, Smith said, “We certainly would like to see education employees near the front of the line because the purpose of that would be to have schools operating at their at their best level and in their best way on behalf of students.”
The order of who receives vaccinations will not be up to the county, Smith said. He added that MCPS has not received any information “to suggest that students will have vaccinations in the near term.”
In the meantime, Smith said that MCPS has been in talks with state and county health officials, other local superintendents, and Salmon about getting vaccines to educators.