Subsequent up are the academics for the Covid vaccine and paving the way in which for the colleges to reopen
In his early days in office, President-elect Joe Biden plans to sign an ordinance to reopen schools.
It's not just about federal funding, however. Vaccination of teachers remains one of the biggest hurdles to getting children back into classrooms.
With Covid-19 cases rising across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have prioritized teachers and school staff as "essential workers" so they will get the vaccine next. "It comes down to how many teachers are vaccinated by when, though," said Tricia Neuman, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation – and that's still a matter of availability and access in each state.
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According to an analysis of coronavirus vaccination schedules from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 37 out of 51 jurisdictions have included this group in Phase 1 of their vaccination schedules.
However, the initial rollout was slower than expected, as distribution in many regions of the country proved more complicated and chaotic.
Healthcare and military workers vaccinate people at the New York State COVID-19 Vaccination Site at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City on January 13, 2021.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
In New York State, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that teachers, police officers, firefighters, public transport workers and other first responders can now be vaccinated along with anyone aged 75 and over, making it eligible for more than 3 million people in the state.
However, under current federal guidelines, New York state is only allocated 300,000 vaccine doses per week.
"Limiting government supply means that not everyone who wants the vaccine can get it right away," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, the New York teachers' union. New York City, the largest school system in the country, has had problems reopening since it closed in November due to the city's rising positivity rate.
In some cases, priority is given to teachers already working in schools.
A light shines at the end of the tunnel.
Jamie Saranik, 43, received the first dose of the vaccine on January 11th. As a kindergarten teacher in the Great Neck public school district on New York's Long Island, Saranik has been teaching personally since September.
Even so, "something has changed mentally for me," she said that she should get vaccinated. "There was definitely a feeling that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
"I won't feel like I have to worry so much when I crouch down to read with a student or close a jacket."
Jamie Saranik received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on January 11th in Brooklyn, New York.
Source: Jamie Saranik
"Nobody wants to learn more personally than the educators who devote their lives to helping their students succeed," said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association.
Some studies show that distance learning causes a significant setback in educational performance, especially among black and Hispanic students, as well as students with disabilities.
If schools stay far away, the potential loss could be significant, especially in math. According to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, students will lose an average of five to nine months of study time by the end of this school year.
The report found that about 60% of K-12 students started the school year completely remotely, while 20% started off with a hybrid of some personal and some remote classes. The remaining 20% went back to their classrooms all day.
Students in urban areas and large school districts are most likely still learning from a distance.
"Some parents who can afford it have switched their children to private schools, pandemic pods or homeschooling," the report said. "Other children lack this option."
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said more students will be able to return to classrooms this spring once teachers are vaccinated.
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