Superintendents and administrators in school districts statewide received welcome news, when Gov. Phil Murphy announced that more teachers will be able to make appointments to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
Starting March 15, teachers and support staff for pre-K through 12th grade, not currently eligible, would become eligible for vaccine access this month in the state’s vaccination roll out. Prior to the expansion of eligibility, vaccinations were only available for educators and staff who were individuals at high risk or have certain medical conditions.
“Two weeks from today these groups will be able to make appointments and start getting vaccinated. What is being constructed now until March 15, the exact how, where and some cases when is going to be worked out,” Murphy said at his COVID-19 briefing on March 1. “That is to be determined.”
To educators specifically, Murphy added that they will work with New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli’s team, the New Jersey Department of Education, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), school leaders and local education stakeholders and the state vaccination sites on ensuring full access without interrupting the school day.
“Depending on the community group that you are in, you may have different path to your vaccine,” Murphy said. “Depending on who you are you may not be calling the call center or state’s registration system, obviously by March 15 and March 29 respectively there will be very explicit instructions.”
The Mercer County Association of School Administrators (MCASA) and Middlesex County Association of School Administrators were two of many associations across the state that had been urging Murphy to place educators in the highest priority to receive vaccinations.
“We are very excited to hear that educators will finally be eligible for the vaccine and we anxiously await details on how the distribution will take place,” said Thomas Smith, superintendent of Hopewell Valley Regional Schools and president of MCASA. “We stand ready and willing to assist in getting our staff vaccinated.”
In addition to educators and support staff, childcare workers in licensed and registered settings; public and local transportation workers, including bus, taxi, rideshare and airport employees; NJ Transit workers; and motor vehicle commission staff; public safety workers who are not sworn law enforcement or fire professionals, including probation officers and fire safety inspectors; migrant farm workers; members of tribal communities; and individuals experiencing homelessness and those living in shelters, including domestic violence shelters are also eligible starting March 15.
Following March 15, additional frontline essential workers will be able to make appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations beginning on March 29. Those additional essential workers eligible are in food production, agriculture and food distribution; eldercare and support; warehousing and logistics; social services support staff; elections personnel; hospitality; medical supply chain; postal and shipping services; clergy; and judicial system.