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Teachers pushed back until potentially April to receive COVID vaccine

Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 6:00 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - In just a matter of weeks Omaha Public School students will be back in the classroom full time. The Omaha Teachers Union is pleading with OPS to wait, saying it wants teachers to be vaccinated first.

“Things are always changing but right now it looks like March would be optimistic. It may be April,” Resource Specialist Phil Rooney with the Douglas County Health Department told 6 News.

Health departments across the nation are working on getting the COVID vaccine into the arms of the most vulnerable. Teachers in Douglas County were set to be among the next vaccinated. However, 45,000 people just jumped in line of them.

In-person learning changes at Omaha Public Schools.
In-person learning changes at Omaha Public Schools.(Omaha Public Schools District)

“Teachers are going to welcome back their students no matter what. They’re just concerned about their safety,” Robert Miller said roughly 80% of staff who responded to the district survey said that they would be willing to receive the vaccination.

He questions the safety of returning to in-person learning five days a week “unprotected.”

The change starts in February with elementary students returning February 2 and high schoolers returning February 17.

“As we look back at the first semester and toward the rest of the school year, we have an opportunity to support students most effectively by welcoming them five days each week, in person,” Dr. Cheryl Logan said in a video released to the district on Facebook Tuesday.

Phased transition to in-person learning

Omaha Public Schools has announced the next step in our phased transition to in-person learning. Students will continue to use the Family 3/2 Model through January. In February, we will shift to five days of in-person learning. Please note these important dates and details: Monday, Feb. 1: No school for elementary and middle school students Tuesday, Feb. 2: Elementary and middle schools transition to five days in-person per week Tuesday, Feb. 16: No school for high school students. Wednesday, Feb. 17: High schools transition to five days in-person per week The Remote Learning Program will continue to be available. Contact your student’s school if you would like to change between remote and in-person learning. Read more here: http://bit.ly/3i53oaF

Posted by Omaha Public Schools on Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The post received hundreds of comments, mainly concerned with the process of in-person learning before people are able to get the vaccine, especially from those who live with a ‘vulnerable’ loved one.

However, some teachers won’t receive the vaccine and say they are as ready to be back to “normal” as much as students.

Miller said he believes the five days a week plan was initially set for February with the thought that teachers would have the opportunity to get the first round of the vaccine by then. Now, as the state works to distribute a whole other age group, Miller hopes if leaders at OPS don’t change their minds maybe those at the health department will.

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