Oakland Teachers Wonder If and When They'll Get COVID-19 Vaccine

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Students in Oakland will not be returning to the classroom next month after all but now that California is projected to get more than 2 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the month – some pre-school teachers want to know, when is it their turn to get the shot? 

Like many pre-schools across the Bay Area, the Old Firehouse School in Lafayette has been open since the summer, tasked with taking care of the children of essential workers. 

But now that hospital workers are getting vaccinated and nursing home employees are next in line, the program director at the pre-k has this message for Governor Newsom: don’t forget to put us near the front of the line too.

“I don’t want to have this on my shoulders anymore – I go to work and I’m with children and I have to go home and I worry about giving it to my parents,” said program director Alexandra Dutton.

Dutton runs the Old Firehouse School in Lafayette and some of the toddlers, 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds her staff cares for are the children of essential workers.  

“They’re doctors, they’re nurses, we have firefighters,” said Dutton.

Even though the pre-school has followed the state’s COVID-19 guidelines, Dutton says a child, showing no signs of being sick, tested positive for COVID-19, forcing some children to stay home and staff to go into quarantine. Dutton is urging state officials – if you want the economy to bounce back, vaccinate teachers and child care workers soon. 

“In order for our economy to move forward and for our families to be safe, teachers need to be vaccinated,” said Dutton. 

She’s not alone. More than 650 people have signed a petition, calling on California officials to prioritize teachers and child care workers as essential workers who need access to the vaccine. 

“I am fine getting it the moment it is available to me,” said Dutton.

Chaz Garcia with the Oakland Education Association said that before any talk about mandating the vaccine, the teachers’ union wants to see a thorough community plan that addresses how it will be equitably distributed, especially to communities of color hardest hit by the pandemic.   

“I would definitely consider it,” said Chaz Garcia.

A spokesperson for the Oakland Unified School District said they are monitoring news of the vaccine rollout, but are still waiting on specific guidance from the state. 

“Do we have that widespread community plan, do we understand what the side effects and if those boxes are checked, I think I would be ready to do it,” said Garcia.

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