MEA applauds President Biden for prioritizing educators for vaccines

The following can be attributed to MEA President Grace Leavitt

“Since COVID-19 vaccines were released, the Maine Education Association and the National Education Association have advocated to give priority access to our educators in order to keep our schools safely open. We are grateful President Biden heard that message and we applaud his plan to prioritize our nation’s educators. MEA has always said that if our schools are a priority, our staff should be too, and the announcement from the President to prioritize educators is welcomed news for those who have been working hard to keep our students safe and learning.”

“During the pandemic, MEA has worked tirelessly to advocate for and create healthy schools for our students to learn and our educators to work. For the past year, MEA has met with State leaders sharing the concerns from those on the front lines in our schools—the bus drivers, the school nurses, the counselors, the educators who work with students who sometimes cannot socially distance but teach anyway so kids can maintain some sense of normalcy. There is some relief tonight knowing that advocacy work mattered, and those educators’ stories made a difference—the anxiety felt by educators across Maine is lifted with the promise from the President. MEA expects that now, with the President’s announcement, the re-prioritization of all educators, not just based on age, will occur immediately in Maine and MEA will work with state leaders to ensure this becomes a reality with ALL Maine educators receiving a vaccine by the end of March, as the President has announced. MEA’s advocacy on this issue will not stop with this announcement because the Association understands that keeping our schools open and safe is not only in the best interest of our students but for the State as a whole.”

“With word of a vaccine in March comes hope, however, MEA must continue to reinforce that science dictates a vaccine is not a silver bullet, and other safety protocols must remain in place. As pressure mounts to bring more students into schools for increased time in-person, we must make it clear that the six safety requirements set forth by the State must remain in place, including the minimum distance of six feet between adults and others, and the absolute minimum of three feet between students must be maintained. If schools cannot meet these standards, particularly the distancing rule, schools cannot expand in-person learning. Our school staff and students have done a remarkable job during truly unprecedented times and MEA is hopeful that good work will continue through the rest of the year with some reduced stress for our educators who we believe should have always been prioritized.”