Maryland’s top education official wants teachers to have first priority when it comes time to start providing coronavirus vaccine doses to essential workers.
“The safety and education of our children demand immediate attention,” Maryland Schools Superintendent Karen Salmon wrote to state health officials, according to a news release published Wednesday.
Salmon’s request includes teachers, school staff and child care workers.
“Prolonged school closures have resulted in our children experiencing diminished academic achievement and social-emotional distress,” Salmon said. “We care about all of our education and child care professionals, many of whom have continued to work on the front line throughout the pandemic, and we are requesting that they be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine in the earliest stages of distribution to essential employees.”
Maryland received its first doses of a vaccine produced by Pfizer-BioNTech Monday at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, where five workers received doses.
Maryland’s vaccine plan calls for health care workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, and first responders to be vaccinated first. That’s followed by people at significantly higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness. Essential workers are set to be vaccinated in the second phase of the vaccine rollout before the general population.
Most of the large school systems in Maryland — including Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, the state’s two most populous jurisdictions — have been providing classes entirely online since the beginning of the pandemic in March, which has led to concerns about a rise in failing grades and students falling behind.
Salmon and members of the State Board of Education have pushed school systems to partially reopen under hybrid models.
“Continued school closings impact all of our children, especially those in underserved communities and vulnerable to abuse,” said Clarence Crawford, president of the Maryland State Board of Education. “Prioritizing distribution of this vaccine to our teachers and school staff will help expedite the return of full in-person instruction for our students.”
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