Teachers Union: First Get Teachers Vaccinated, Then We’ll Talk About Reopening Schools

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This is a statement from New Jersey Education Association President Marie Blistan regarding Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement on Monday that pre-K-12 educators and support staff will be eligible to begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations beginning March 15. The Governor has also announced he expects all schools to resume in-person instruction in September; at Monday’s COVID press conference he said, “we would fully expect, assuming things go in the direction they’re going, we would be in-person for school in September. And I will be very surprised and disappointed if we’re not.”  Blistan’s statement doesn’t address this timeline.

Gov. Murphy’s announcement that he is adding educators to the vaccine priority list is an important step toward New Jersey’s emergence from this pandemic. With nearly 1.4 million students and over 200,000 adults, one out of every six New Jersey residents is connected directly to our public schools. Count the families they go home to and no institution in our state directly connects to more individuals than our public schools. The sooner educators are vaccinated, the sooner our entire state is safer. We call on the administration to immediately extend that access to employees in higher education who are equally as exposed and equally as critical to fully reopening our state for in-person instruction. At every level, New Jersey educators have worked tirelessly to educate our students and have advocated tirelessly to protect them and our communities throughout this pandemic by demanding high standards for health and safety. We stand ready to work with the Murphy administration, other elected leaders, school districts and colleges to ensure that our members can access the promised vaccinations quickly and efficiently.

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