Teachers to be eligible for vaccine next week

Heather Alterisio, The Daily News of Newburyport, Mass.
·2 min read

Mar. 4—With supply concerns in mind, area school superintendents are cautiously optimistic following the announcement that educators will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning next week.

Speaking Wednesday at West Parish Elementary School in Gloucester, Gov. Charlie Baker said school personnel and child care workers can start trying to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine appointments through any of the state's 170 vaccination sites as of March 11. Mass vaccination sites also plan to block off days specifically for educators.

This announcement followed pressure from President Joe Biden on Tuesday for all states to prioritize vaccinations of educators. It also came on the heels of last week's revelation that the governor and Education Commissioner Jeff Riley want all elementary schools to return to full in-person learning by April.

Triton Regional School District Superintendent Brian Forget called the announcement "great news," adding that it was "long overdue."

In acknowledging the limited supply of vaccine in the state, Forget said the district is already looking into options to host its own clinics for teachers.

The superintendent said he is working with an "independent pharmacy" — which he declined to name until more details are confirmed — to try to secure doses of the vaccine.

Triton has approximately 425 employees, or close to 450 if bus drivers and other contract workers are included.

Forget estimated the district will be looking to vaccinate between 300 and 350 of its staff. The other 100 or so employees have either opted not to seek the vaccine at this time or have already received it through other channels of eligibility — the latter being the majority.

In Newburyport, Superintendent Sean Gallagher said the news was just another layer that will assist the district transition's to more in-person learning.

The district has already established a partnership with Cataldo Ambulance Service, which is coordinating vaccination sites all over the state, including at Fenway Park in Boston.

Through this partnership, Newburyport school officials hope to secure a supply to give faculty and staff their first doses of the vaccine during the week of March 15.

Newburyport has 432 employees, as well as about 50 additional substitute teachers and specialists. In early February, approximately 350 employees signed up to receive the vaccine through the district. Prior to and since, there have also been staff members who already received the vaccine due to other eligibility.