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Ohio Education Association Applauds Plans to Prioritize Educators for COVID-19 Vaccines

[December 23, 2020] As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Ohio, the Ohio Education Association (OEA) welcomed Governor Mike DeWine’s announcement that teachers and other school employees will be able to receive vaccines in the next round of distribution, potentially beginning as early as mid-January.

“We are grateful to Governor DeWine for listening to the concerns of the state’s educators, who have been nothing short of heroic in their efforts to reach and teach Ohio’s students through extremely difficult circumstances, often being forced to put their own safety and that of their families and communities on the line,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said. “The decision to prioritize teachers and educational support staff in vaccine distribution plans demonstrates Gov. DeWine’s commitment to prioritizing education in Ohio’s COVID-19 response plans.”

Earlier this month, OEA’s Board of Directors, a governing body composed of dozens of educators around the state, approved a policy urging the state and school districts to put education first through a four-point plan that reflects the best practices for ensuring Ohio’s children receive a high-quality education in a safe environment. The full policy statement can be found here (Adobe pdf).

“We will encourage all OEA members who are medically eligible to receive a vaccine when they can. However, the COVID-19 vaccine is not a panacea,” DiMauro said. “Because the vaccines have not been approved for children, pregnant women, or some other adults, including those who are prone to severe allergic reactions, many people in our schools will remain unprotected from the virus. Moreover, it has not yet been proven whether a person who has been vaccinated could still spread the virus to others. Therefore, even when educators are able to be vaccinated, it will remain critically important to continue following all CDC guidance to keep our schools safe and open for in-person instruction when possible.”

OEA believes the highest priority for vaccine distribution among the education community is to make it available in communities that have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, including high-poverty communities and communities of color. “The vaccine is a critical resource for saving lives and reopening economies,” DiMauro said. “We need to ensure that resource is available where it is needed most as quickly as possible.”

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2020 Press Releases