January 27, 2021
Message to Members
From: Dean Ingram
Re: COVID-19 Vaccines for Teachers and School Staff
As Newfoundland and Labrador and other jurisdictions across Canada continue to move forward with COVID-19 vaccinations, the NLTA is advocating for the provincial government to include teachers and other school staff on vaccine priority lists immediately. Many rollout plans, including our own, are still unclear about who will get vaccinated next.
Maintaining in-person, in-school classes should be everyone’s priority. Vaccinating teachers would add an additional layer of protection for students and staff, improving the likelihood of schools staying safely open over the winter and coming spring. NLTA members are on the front lines in our schools every day, teaching and supporting students during these unprecedented times. They are in close contact with children and other adults, indoors, for many hours at a time, every day, often with poor ventilation and without the mandatory mask requirements in place for other community spaces and worksites.
I wrote to Premier Furey on this matter in December and raised it again in discussion with him on January 11. A response has not yet been received, and I will continue to push on this issue. The Association is also supporting the efforts of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation at the national level to ensure that teachers, as frontline workers receive frontline worker protection. Given the uncertainty regarding when and how the provincial government will further determine its priority groups for Phase II vaccinations, including vaccines for school-aged children and youth, priority access for teachers, immediately following our most vulnerable residents and those who care for them, is essential.
The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines give us all hope for the future. If teachers and other school staff are not next in line, after vulnerable populations and health care workers, our kids will face the consequences and our economy will continue to suffer.
Take care and stay safe.