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Superintendents in Mercer County push Murphy for educators to receive high priority in vaccine roll out

Mercer County superintendents are urging that Gov. Phil Murphy place educators in the highest priority to receive vaccinations in the state’s COVID-19 vaccination roll out.

Mercer County Association of School Administrators (MCASA), an organization for Mercer County superintendents, sent a letter on Feb. 1 to Murphy asking for vaccines for teachers as soon as possible.

Superintendents who signed the letter are Thomas Smith, president of MCASA and superintendent of Hopewell Valley Regional Schools; David Aderhold, secretary of MCASA and superintendent, West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional Schools; Michael Nitti of Ewing Township Schools; Ross Kasun of Lawrence Township Schools;

Scott Rocco, Hamilton Township Schools; Brian Betze, superintendent of Robbinsville Public Schools; Alfonso Llano Jr., acting superintendent, Trenton Schools; Mark Daniels, East Windsor Regional Schools; Barry Galasso, interim superintendent, Princeton Regional Schools; and Kimberly Schneider of Mercer County Special Services School District and Mercer County Technical Schools.

“We write to you as the united superintendents of Mercer County to urge that educators receive the highest priority in the distribution of COVID vaccines. Until our teachers can return to classrooms safely and with confidence, New Jersey will feel the negative consequences of the pandemic both educationally and economically,” the letter states.

Murphy has not yet announced a specific date for when teachers would be able to receive vaccine doses during the current distribution.

Vaccinations continue to be available only for paid and unpaid persons who are healthcare personnel (Phase 1A), long-term care residents and staff (Phase 1A), first responders (Phase 1B), and individuals at high risk (Phase 1B), such as residents 65 and older and individuals ages 16-64 who have certain medical conditions.

“It is of course imperative that our first responders, essential workers, medical field workers, medically vulnerable, and senior citizens receive the vaccine first; however, those who work in public and private schools – K-12 schools, colleges, universities, daycare centers, and other educational institutions – must be provided vaccinations as soon as possible,” the letter continued. “Vaccinating those who work with students means increasing the possibility of in-person education. It also means we can begin the long road to remediating the academic and social-emotional concerns resulting from a year without consistent in-person schooling.”

 

The full text of the letter is:

Dear Governor Murphy,

We write to you as the united superintendents of Mercer County to urge that educators receive the highest priority in the distribution of COVID vaccines. Until our teachers can return to classrooms safely and with confidence, New Jersey will feel the negative consequences of the pandemic both educationally and economically.  

Our ability to maintain classroom learning is directly affected by having healthy teachers and staff, whose safety and confidence hinges on access to the vaccines. As the spring term progresses, we must provide a consistent environment for student success, one as free as possible from the disruptions of sudden quarantines and reversions to remote instruction.  

As veteran educators, we can attest that this is the most serious threat to education and the well-being of our children that we have seen in our careers. Your leadership can make a difference. It is urgent that we vaccinate educators quickly and stabilize the classroom environment. Our teachers and staff are frontline workers and their efforts contribute not only to the health of New Jersey’s economy but to the future of every child in this state.  

It is of course imperative that our first responders, essential workers, medical field workers, medically vulnerable, and senior citizens receive the vaccine first; however, those who work in public and private schools – K-12 schools, colleges, universities, daycare centers, and other educational institutions – must be provided vaccinations as soon as possible. Vaccinating those who work with students means increasing the possibility of in-person education. It also means we can begin the long road to remediating the academic and social-emotional concerns resulting from a year without consistent in-person schooling.

We also have to share our willingness to offer our facilities, skilled staff and operational planning teams to the vaccination effort. From a logistical point of view, New Jersey’s schools are ideal vaccination locations. Many districts have adequate parking, large indoor spaces, and staffing and communications capabilities that make them conducive for designated vaccination sites. Schools deal with large-scale events and the logistics associated with them all the time.

We plan student orientations, graduations, sporting events, and musicals that involve hundreds of people in attendance at one time. Let us also not forget that we move hundreds of students and staff in and out of our schools daily, and transport students across our towns. School districts and our schools know how to plan for and set up large events, staff them, run them, and keep people safe. 

In closing, we know that you share our motivating goal to open up our schools as safely, effectively and quickly as possible.  By prioritizing vaccinations for school employees, you can help us achieve this important goal that will benefit so many of our students and community members. Again, please know that we are willing and able to help this process in any way possible. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Sincerely,

Thomas Smith, President, MCASA, David Aderhold, Secretary, MCASA, Michael Nitti, Ross Kasun, Scott Rocco, Brian Betze, Alfonso Llano Jr., Mark Daniels, Barry Galasso, Kimberly Schneider.

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