News and Commentary

Maryland County Chooses Public Schools Teachers Over Private School Teachers For Vaccine

A Montgomery County Health Officer announced public school teachers will be the first to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
Anna DaSilva, medial clinic supervisor, is prepared to receive her shot as Montgomery County administers 4,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine to healthcare workers and first responders, in Silver Spring, MD on December 30.
Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A Montgomery County, Maryland, public health official indicated that public school teachers, who are teaching remotely, will receive priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine over private school teachers who are teaching in-person.  

According to the Washington Examiner, Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles announced that public school teachers will be the first to receive the coronavirus vaccine through the county’s partnership with Johns Hopkins University and Suburban Hospital. Gayles added that the county is anticipating working with private schools, but plans are still “in the works.” 

“They also will be working with our school systems, starting with the public schools, to provide opportunities for vaccination for educators and teachers,” Gayle said. “[Vaccinations] will be a critical component to being able to bring kids back into the school setting, by offering additional protection for our educators and staff. We anticipate they will also be working with our nonpublic schools, and so all of those things are in the works.”

Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) district — one of the largest districts in the nation — sent an email to employees informing them that the state’s Health and Human Services department and Johns Hopkins Medicine were working to provide all MCPS employees access to the coronavirus vaccine. 

There is no specific instruction under Maryland’s phased vaccination plan to vaccinate public school teachers over private school teachers. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan made clear that any COVID-19 vaccine provider who discriminates against private school teachers in administering the vaccine could face future vaccine reallocations. 

“Discriminating against private school teachers in administering the vaccine is wrong and against state policy,” Hogan tweeted. “Any COVID-19 vaccine provider who does so will have future vaccine allocations reduced or reallocated to other providers.”

Public school teachers are receiving vaccines despite their refusal to return to classroom learning. The push to remain online has been coordinated by the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA), a Maryland teacher union connected to the National Education Association — the largest teacher union in the nation. 

In a Jan. 26 letter to Hogan, MSEA President Cheryl Bost blasted Hogan for aiming to reopen schools and claimed the state’s vaccination efforts were not sufficient for teachers, many of whom have received full vaccination before the most vulnerable members of society.  

“Many educators are hearing at your press conferences that they can now get vaccines only to find no vaccine available to them in their counties,” the letter reads. “It is deeply disappointing that you are spending your time and energy blaming and threatening educators rather than fixing the problems that are making it harder to reopen our schools and state more broadly.” 

Hogan’s plan for returning to school is guided by data that show schools are not driving coronavirus transmission. The guidance calls for special education and students with disabilities to return to classroom learning and a mixed approach of “hybrid learning” and “phased in daily in-person learning” for K-12 students. 

The plan notes that any form of in-person instruction can take place only if health and safety requirements can be met. 

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