COVID-19 vaccine would 'assuage so many fears' for educators

Teachers eligible for vaccine in KS, not MO
Schools empty lockers
Posted at 9:22 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 00:38:13-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Teachers in Kansas are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but that's not the case in Missouri.

President Joe Biden's administration announced it wants teachers to be moved up in the priority list, but it's each state's discretion.

Under Missouri's vaccine eligibility chart, teachers are in the next phase, 1B Tier 3.

Matt Michelson, director of educational policy at the Missouri State Teachers Association, said he believes there is a lot of frustration in the education industry.

"We have a lot of our teachers that are in poorer communities, and we know that all the other states that touch Missouri, with the exception of Oklahoma, are currently allowing teachers to receive a vaccination for COVID," Michelson said.

Teachers in the Kansas City metro are hoping to receive the notification that they're eligible for the vaccine.

"I have signed up on every single thing that I can sign up on,"said Elaine McDonald, a Lee's Summit high school teacher. "Getting a vaccine would definitely help assuage so many fears for so many teachers and students alike, it would be amazing."

Kansas City, Missouri, Public Schools announced it had a goal of allowing in-person classes in mid-March. But teachers not being vaccinated could stall that possibility.

"We're going to be putting a whole lot of people at risk unnecessarily when we could wait for the vaccine," Manny Abarca, KCPS Board of Education treasurer, said.

Abarca said the response he's received from the community is to keep students in virtual learning.

"I have received zero emails about people saying, 'Hey, we want to go back right now and this is a valid reason why,'" he said. "It’s just not worth it right now."

41 Action News reached out to the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services on when the next phase will happen, and Communications Director Lisa Cox provided the following statement:

It is difficult for us to speculate when that may occur exactly due to uncertainty with supply. However, supply is now beginning to increase each week and become more stable, and we are looking forward to the day when supply increases to the point where we can vaccinate our teachers and enhance classroom safety.

Meanwhile, teacher frustrations grow as they say every day is a risk.

"I would love for the folks in higher ups, would hopefully realize that we are essential workers, and we're front line we would love to be able to frame new minds," McDonald said.

The KCPS Board of Education will meet Thursday on whether to proceed with virtual learning or transition to in-person learning next month.