Colorado educators bumped up COVID-19 vaccine list

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DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado educators got some unexpected and welcome news Wednesday: Gov. Jared Polis announced they will move up in line for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Additionally, the age range for Phase 2 is now 60-69; it was 65-69 before Wednesday.

Educators were originally in the state’s Phase 2, after health care workers and first responders. Polis moved them up to Phase 1B, which means they could start getting vaccinated within the next few weeks. “Frontline essential human service workers” are also now listed under Phase 1B.

Amie Baca-Oehlert, president of the Colorado Educators Association, said, “When you’re thinking about where we were originally on the prioritization, it could’ve been toward the end of the school year many educators were receiving the first dose of the vaccine, so this is hopeful news and hope it can help get us back to in person learning.”

She said it did come as a bit of a surprise, but they have been having discussions with the governor’s office over the past few weeks.

“We were able to speak to the governor’s office about this important need and the governor’s office responded and listened to that. We of course 100% agree health care workers and those living in long-term care facilities needed to be the highest priority, but we really do believe given the critical role educators play in our communities, that they needed to be higher on the priority list. In many of our communities, the school district is the largest employer in the community, so there’s a lot of impact there. Educators are providing that critical service of educating students, which often times means also giving them food, transportation, access to health care,” she said.

Many parents agree that educators need to be a high priority.

Patricia Mendoza said, “The faster they can get the kids going to school full-time, the better it’s going to be to get the economy going. Having to stay home with the children, not being able to go to work, cutting off one income completely from the household has definitely a toll on the family.”

Teachers and school staff members could get their first dose of the vaccine in the next month. The logistics are still being developed.

Baca-Oehlert said, “Overall, our educators really see the need for this vaccine to really get us back to in-person learning. Many of our educators say it’s one of the components that will help them feel safe. They are very anxious in wanting to know how is this going to happen, when, where. Our educators really want to get back to in-person learning, but they want it to be safe and healthy.”

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association said in a statement:

“DCTA is happy that the Governor is prioritizing safety in schools and we hope that the community will continue to do its part to reduce the spread of the virus during the holiday season.”

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