BOSTON — The countdown is on until schools across the state return to full-time in-person learning, and districts have been scrambling to find ways to get teachers vaccinated in time.
Massachusetts education officials are requiring traditional learning for elementary schoolers on April 5th and middle schoolers on April 28th.
A growing number of districts are announcing vaccination clinics designated for teachers, bus drivers and other staff.
Boston Public Schools will be opening two BPS-only vaccination sites.
The first will open Sunday at the Boston Centers for Youth and Families Gallivan Community Center in Mattapan and will offer about 200 appointments per day.
The second will open at Boston Teachers Union headquarters in Dorchester when more vaccine doses become available.
“It’s welcome news. It’s a start, but it’s not enough,” said Jessica Tang, president of Boston Teachers Union. “In lieu of a comprehensive specific plan from the state, a lot of local unions and districts have partnered together to try to find solutions.”
Tang said the union and district have partnered with the city of Boston to make it happen.
“They do have to tell the state who the vaccines are going toward,” explained Tang. “While they can try to prioritize some spots, they still have to get that approved by the state.”
According to the Massachusetts Teachers Association, educator-only vaccine sites have opened or are opening in Franklin, Dedham, Gardner and Mashpee.
Patricia DeBoer, Superintendent of Mashpee Public Schools, told Boston 25 News that the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, through their Federal Health Services Unit, is collaborating with district to provide vaccines to staff.
It will be a drive-through clinic, and staff members will receive the Moderna vaccine - with the first dose scheduled for Friday, 3/19 and the second dose scheduled for Friday, 4/16.
“It was just the boost that many of our members needed. Team Mashpee is thrilled to only have to drive a couple of miles to the Mashpee Wampanoag Government Center--Health Clinic for their vaccine,” said DeBoer. “They are also grateful that they don’t need to engage in the vaccine “Hunger Games.”
Merrie Najimy, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said she believes unions, districts and municipalities having to figure it out at the local level isn’t sufficient.
“There is an appetite for local vaccination. We believe these local models are the most effective and least disruptive,” Najimy told Boston 25 News.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association and several unions have been advocating for the state to adopt ‘The Last Mile’ program. It would allow firefighters to vaccinate teachers and other staff on site at schools.
The state has set aside specific educator vaccine days at the seven mass vaccination sites. Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said there’s about 25,000 total doses available at the sites for educators.
There’s approximately 400,000 K-12 educators, child care workers and K-12 school staff in Massachusetts.
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