No timetable for teacher vaccinations yet as educators prepare for in-person learning
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As pre-K through second grade teachers, along with a handful of others across the Anchorage School District, prepare to return to in-person learning in mid-January, many educators will go back to the school buildings without the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We do see that teachers are being vaccinated in our rural areas as part of our [Indian Health Service] allocation already,” Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said during Monday’s Alaska COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force media press conference. “Regarding places that are not getting IHS allocation for teacher vaccine, I would not suspect it would be in the next few weeks and I would suspect it would be this summer.”
Zink’s prediction has teachers in Alaska’s larger cities getting the vaccine sometime in between those two time frames.
“When it happens my guess is it will be a series of tiered steps so it won’t be all at once,” Zink said. “Just because it’s a lot of people and to make sure this is done quickly and smoothly.”
Zink says even though teachers may head back to the classrooms with the vaccine, there are already protocols in place to keep teachers and students safe.
“As we get vaccine out we’re trying to move other tools and resources out to other areas,” Zink said. “So, for example, for schools, having teachers be asymptomatically screened once a week can be a real important tool in making sure that teachers aren’t asymptomatically bringing it in and spreading it in the break room or other places.”
Zink also says it gives teachers and students the ability to have a fast turnaround time for any sort of symptomatic case so they can figure out if they have COVID-19 or not in order to get back into the school.
“While this vaccine does decrease the risk of getting seriously ill, we don’t fully know its role on transmission yet so we still need to take the steps in schools to minimize the risk of transmission,” Zink said. “We also know those kids won’t be vaccinated for a long time so we want to minimize the transmission to them as well. So distancing and masking is going to be real important.”
The Anchorage School District will start phasing students and teachers back to school buildings starting Jan. 19, 2021.
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