Some Pikes Peak area teachers pleading to get vaccinated before putting kids back in the classroom

Published: Dec. 11, 2020 at 1:20 PM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A vaccine is on the horizon and will become available in Colorado soon. As the vaccine becomes closer in reach, some local teachers are pleading to get vaccinated before putting kids back in the classroom.

“Personally, I understand why health care workers, first responders, and at-risk individuals are higher on the priority list. However, if educators are expected to be in person with students, they should have the option to be vaccinated before going back to in-person learning,” says Aubrey Huey, President of Pikes Peak Education Association.

As it stands in the distribution list, teachers are in Phase 2 which means they won’t get the vaccine until spring 2021. Some local teachers say by that time the school year will already almost be over. Phase 1 of the vaccine distribution list is for health care workers and those dealing directly with COVID-19. While most teachers agree those most in need should get the vaccine first, they feel as if they should be moved up the list slightly.

“For me personally there are 1.8, 1.9 million people ahead of me to get a vaccine in Colorado and there are over 200,000 people in line ahead of me to get vaccine just in El Paso County,” Angela Bird, a high school french teacher in Widefield District 3.

It’s a struggle a lot of local teachers are facing, when can they get a vaccine and how fast will that vaccine work in order to keep their students safe? Bird tells 11 News timing for them is everything.

“The school year would be over by the time educators are actually eligible for the vaccine.”

Some local teachers say the constant plea to get kids back in in-person learning is making it more stressful for them as they put themselves at risk if they’re in person. Some believe a line of defense is what they need right now in order to open school buildings back up.

“When the governor saying don’t see people if they’re outside of your household, make sure you’re not associating with people outside of your household. As an educator and especially as a high school educator if I have every student in my classroom I’m interacting for 60 plus students at a time with 100 different households on a daily basis,” says Bird.

Teachers in the area aren’t only worried about their safety, but the safety of their students and their families as well. In El Paso County the outbreak data puts schools at the top of the list with the most outbreaks.

“19% of our outbreak’s in El Paso County are in kindergarten through 12th-grade schools and I think we’re just ready for a vaccine,” says Cari Fox, a teacher in Academy District 20.

Local districts are also weighing in with a message to the governor about the placement of local educators on the distribution list.

“We would say to Governor Polis help us get our teachers access to that vaccine as quickly and as safely as possible,” says Allison Cortez, Chief Communications Officer at Academy District 20. “Right now there is a lot of anxiety and fear from our teachers about being in the classroom and if we could get them pushed up in the vaccination line we think that we could get our students back sooner.”

Governor Polis’ office tells 11 News they are following the CDC’s guidelines on distribution plans and do not plan to move educators up.

Some local districts are pushing teachers and staff members to reach out to the governor’s office to be moved up on the vaccination list or to stay remote until they can get vaccinated.

11 News also spoke to educators who did not want to share their identity who said they don’t plan on getting the vaccine because it was rushed, or they’re unsure of the safety of it.

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