Georgia teachers are being disrespected and mistreated by not being given access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
In the state of Georgia, the vaccine is being distributed in phases. Currently they are in the first phase involving the 1A+ group. This group is made up of healthcare workers, law enforcement personnel and those over 65 years of age.
This does not include teachers, who are being thrown into the classroom, not given a choice about teaching remotely or in person. As the coronavirus numbers are increasing, teachers are being forced to cover each other’s classes and quarantining due to contact tracing.
English teacher, Ms. Kendig explained that there is a lack of communication and information in regards to when teachers will be given access to the vaccine. She also shared that many teachers are frustrated because they are working in a state position and have no options about where they can teach. “It’s been quite apparent that we just need to get into the classroom and be quiet,” Ms. Kendig explained.
Chemistry teacher Mrs. Chilton described her frustrations because teachers have no option about being virtual or in person.
Furthermore, math teacher Mrs. Ravisangar shared her annoyance and concerns about the vaccination order because there are a lot of teachers who have health issues and risk their lives everyday to work.
Students opting to learn at home have had many struggles understanding the information they are being presented with and staying motivated when there is no teacher checking on them in person.
Ms. Kendig expressed that students cannot learn if she is just sitting at her desk. She wants to interact with everyone to make sure they are grasping every topic. “If they want kids back in the classroom, that deems that we need to be amongst our students,” she expressed. This means teachers need to be provided with proper protection, like the vaccine, to ensure that they and their family do not get sick.
All teachers interviewed agree that they feel their students learn better in the classroom, and they feel more confident that students are retaining more information in person than at home.
Mrs. Chilton also shared her concerns about all of the uncertainties, “I think there are just so many questions. When we do get it [vaccine], will people start coming back to school or are they still going to choose to stay in this situation?”
In addition, teachers are worried about getting their family and friends sick by bringing home the virus from students.
Ms. Kendig shared, “The idea that I risk my own children at home by coming home everyday and bringing the germs from school to them, and having to send them to school because I am not at home to facilitate their learning is upsetting.”
Mrs. Ravisangar is also concerned about exposing her family and friends to COVID and shared that other teachers in her department feel the same way.
Ms. Kendig, Mrs. Chilton and Mrs. Ravisangar will be in line to get the vaccine as soon as they gain access to it. Mrs. Chilton expressed, “I just worry that 1B is going to be in a long time from now. If there was a laid out plan and we knew, I think I would be ok. It’s more of the uncertainty that’s difficult.”
To find out more information about the vaccination process in Georgia click here.