Should educators be moved up on the vaccine priority list to get students back in school?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Part of last week’s decision to further delay the return of Shelby County students to classrooms was the desire of teachers to get vaccinated before they go back into the classroom. But it could take longer than hoped. Educators aren’t slated to begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccines until the beginning of March.

Emily Maroda’s kids aren’t old enough to attend Shelby County Schools, but she agreed with the district: No in-person learning for students for now.

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“I think it’s fair for the safety of teachers and kids in the classroom to wait until they’re vaccinated,” said Maroda.

The Shelby County Health Department had said vaccines would start going into teacher’s arms beginning this month, but that’s been pushed back.

“It looks like it will be later this month or possibly the first week of March,” said Dr. Judy Martin with the Shelby County Health Department.

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The question is whether schools could reopen without teachers vaccinated. Health leaders said yes.

“Our preference would be that they’re vaccinated before returning, but it’s not an absolute necessity,” said Shelby County Health Officer Bruce Randolph.

Shelby County Schools remains one of two districts in the state not offering in-person learning. Metro Nashville is the other, but they plan to bring students back in person later this week.

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