Alaska educators among those next in line who are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Alaska to receive another 52,900 doses of COVID-19 vaccine this month
Alaska educators are included in the next round of COVID vaccinations
Alaska educators are included in the next round of COVID vaccinations(none)
Published: Jan. 1, 2021 at 3:24 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - On New Year’s Eve, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced in a press release that the state will receive another 52,900 doses of COVID-19 vaccines sometime this month. The doses will be distributed to people across Alaska who are currently listed in phase 1b, which includes Alaska’s teachers, frontline workers, public safety workers and senior citizens.

“Even with our members being vaccinated, our students and families may not be,” Anchorage Education Association President Corey Aist said. “We’re still going to need to practice all the mitigation protocols that are in place, and we still need to support those students and families who choose to stay in their online learning environments.”

Aist says AEA has around 3,100 members who will be eligible for the vaccination when it becomes available. He says the good news is that the vaccine is coming. The bad news is it is not known when yet, and that makes things a little dicey as the Anchorage School District prepares for in-person learning to begin on Jan. 19.

“It seems a little premature to go back when the vaccine is only a week or so available,” Aist said. “The association was hoping that the vaccine would become available at some level starting next week on January 4th, either planning or implementation in terms of getting those doses out to teachers who are starting face-to-face with students.”

Aist says with the news of more doses of the vaccine coming at some point this month, he’d like to see the school district coincide the return to in-person learning with vaccine distribution.

“It’d be great for those timelines to come together at some point,” Aist said. “So, if the vaccine can be distributed earlier, wonderful, let’s do that, let’s coincide the start with face-to-face learning and if it’s not available then let’s keep it volunteerism for teachers and not force anyone to return who doesn’t feel comfortable.”

The Anchorage School District plans to return pre-K through second grade students, teachers and staff on Jan. 19. Some schools may also start earlier than that. These are the teachers who may not have the vaccine available before they head back to the classrooms.

“It’s more of the teachers in the special ed world that are being asked to go back to face-to-face learning and did not volunteer,” Aist said. “What the association is doing is supporting those who are concerned in wanting the vaccine and to define different options for them.”

For the rest of ASD’s educators in grades 3 through 12, they will start phasing back to the classrooms in February and March and the timeline for vaccinations and the return to the buildings should line up.

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