State educators anxious for COVID-19 vaccine after Gov. Inslee fast-tracks eligibility

Teachers and staff are now immediately eligible to get the vaccine, welcoming news for state educators, but it's not the end all, be all when it comes to ensuring everyone’s safety in returning to the classroom.

It's exciting news for so many educators across our state, some of whom were urging state leaders to add teachers to Covid-19 vaccine eligibility before in-person learning resumes. Although they are now fast-tracked, accessibility challenges remain. 

On Tuesday, Gov. Inslee announced teachers and school staff-- including childcare workers--are now eligible for the vaccine, but many educators are anxious. 

"After President Biden and Governor Inslee made their announcements, my social media feeds just blew up with all my educator friends saying, ‘This is great. Can anyone get an appointment anywhere because I can’t find a place to go?'" said Dr. Lauren Evans, Superintendent for North Kitsap School District.

That’s been the challenge for everyone, but Inslee is confident in the recent, expedited vaccine rollout.

"The increase in supply is quite dramatic. We’ve had a 77 percent increase in supply so we are going to be able to get to the teachers and other essential workers much faster than we thought," said Inslee.

RELATED: Puget Sound area veterans enrolled in VA care now eligible for Covid-19 vaccine

It’s happening much faster for the North Kitsap School District, thanks to the generosity of the Suquamish Tribe. They’ve partnered to open a vaccine clinic on March 10th when the district’s more than 600 teachers and staff will get their first shot.

"The reaction of the staff this morning was overwhelming. It was absolutely positive; they were grateful," said Evans.

For the rest of the 200,000 educators, bus drivers, custodians and school staff in the state – we’re told there could be a bit of a bottleneck.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal said while this encouraging news has sped up the state’s plan by 3 or 4 weeks, safety protocols for in-person learning will not change.  

Chris Reykdal (Q13 FOX photo)

"We still have all the other health protocols we need to follow. Students are not getting vaccinated, they can get sick, they can bring it home to parents and grandparents, so the face coverings will stay, the physical distancing will stay and because districts get all the kids in with that 6-foot rule, parents should expect hybrid models for the rest of this year primarily," Reykdal said. 

While most teachers are excited for the opportunity to get vaccinated, some say they still have concerns about the overall safety of students.

The districts will continue to monitor Covid cases in each county and adjust guidelines as they see fit.

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