Plans underway to get teachers, child care workers vaccinated

SPOKANE, Wash. — People who help take care of and teach kids are now allowed to get the vaccine.

President Joe Biden said teachers, school staff and child care workers are able to move to the front of the line and get their shots now.

Washington is trying to make that change go smoothly. It’s been a long wait for many educators and child care workers who have been there for the children during the pandemic.

The vaccine is a sign of hope to return back to normal. It’s also a sign that more kids will be able to fill empty seats in classrooms, as many are on a hybrid schedule.

It also means those who stand in front of the kids and teach them will now have another measure of protection.

“It’s positive, really positive. The vaccine is an enormous part of underwriting our confidence in coming back in many parts of our state,” said Chris Reykdal, Washington’s superintendent of public instruction.

Reykdal says the new move means more than 200,000 people are now allowed to get it. However, he warns people should be cautious, because that does not mean there’s an increase in vaccine allocations.

That’s been the tough part for school districts trying to get their teachers vaccinated.

Spokane Regional Health District and school districts are working together to figure out how to make this work.

Brett Baum, the Liberty School District superintendent, said he’s been trying to get a vaccine clinic in Spangle for his staff, but it’s been tough.

The district currently has more than 80 employees with a majority saying they want the vaccine. He wants to make it easy for them to get it, rather than having to make a drive in to the city.

“Otherwise, if our staff all have to go in individually and arrange times in town or find different clinics, they may not be able to do that on weekends and so we’re having to try to arrange substitutes,” Baum said, adding that substitutes are also in short supply right now.

There aren’t enough vaccines for Baum to get a mobile clinic out to Spangle. He’s continuing to try and get providers to come out to help. Up north in Mead, they’ve had some luck.

Todd Zeidler, the public information officer for the Mead School District, said about 400 of 1,800 district employees are vaccinated.

They plan to have a mobile clinic in the next few weeks, now being able to vaccinate those teachers in need. This clinic has been in the works for weeks now.

“We’re just continuously looking for more opportunities and access for vaccinations because that won’t take care of all of them. But, we’ll continue to do all we can to give them opportunities for that,” Zeidler said.

More opportunities to get vaccinated means more of a chance for a normal school year.

“I am anticipating us being back extensively, if not, completely this fall. But, again, that’s going to take some work as well and we still have a personal responsibility to wear your face covering, that’s what keeps the virus numbers down,” Reykdal said.