On Tuesday, 1/12/21, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced COVID-19 vaccination would be available beginning January 18 for school employees and others in the 1b category.
The updated timeline for school employee vaccinations is welcome news for the educators serving on the frontlines of this public health crisis.
Providing quality learning opportunities for Arkansas’s students while also creating as safe an environment as possible, has placed our educators in an extremely demanding situation. The return to in-person education has resulted in the deaths of more than two dozen educators and, unfortunately, continues to put children and families at risk. Vaccinations will begin to help educators feel more comfortable as they continue working to provide the face-to-face connection for which there is no replacement.
This updated timeline brings an opportunity to return to an in-person education where every student can thrive – but only if vaccination campaigns are done safely and equitably. We urge state agencies to use consistent and transparent communications on the benefits and safety of vaccines.
Until the vaccine effort begins to curb the spread of this virus, it is vital that we all continue to practice social distancing, masking, and hand washing. We urge districts to extend emergency leave for educators due to COVID-19 infection or for those forced into quarantine after potential exposure. Districts should act quickly to ensure educators are not forced to use their sick leave to prevent the spread of this dangerous virus.