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Brigadier General says teachers will be first to get vaccine in upcoming essential workers phase

Posted at 9:42 PM, Jan 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 00:47:49-05

DENVER — Brigadier General Scott Sherman hinted at Monday's COVID-19 news conference there may be a pecking order for the next portion of the vaccination phase.

"We’re working hard this week to start the planning to figure out what the priorities are for phase 1B below the dash line," Sherman said. "Teachers are actually going to be the first priority from there. Pre-K through 12 and child care workers that’s going to be our number one priority to make sure we can get in class learning."

Several large school districts have already started their return to in-person learning, and thousands of students and staff are already in quarantine.

"We believe that because of the role that our educators play and impact in reach they have in our communities that it certainly makes sense for them to be at the top of that list," said Amie Baca-Oehlert, president of the Colorado Education Association.

Baca-Oehlert said teachers have concerns going back to in-person learning. Getting the vaccine gives a layer of security they need.

"It certainly has caused a lot of angst and anxiety. I think we have a lot of educators who are anxious," Baca-Oehlert said. "There are so many unknowns in our world right now, this is just another one of those stressors."

Some question whether teachers are at a higher risk than essential workers inside grocery stores that never closed and employees who couldn't work from home.

"We’ve lost four grocery workers and six packinghouse workers, but we’ve had hundreds become very sick," said Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7.

The most recent passing was Rainey Gordon, an employee who worked at Safeway in Castle Rock for 18 years. Gordon died days before Christmas from COVID-19 complications. The union believes she may have contracted it while working.

"I think it’s important that the teachers receive their vaccines, but I also think it’s important for our frontline workers to receive a vaccine as well. The food chain workers have continued to work through the entire pandemic," Cordova said.

In a statement, the state said:
“We know educators play a vital role in helping students return to class. We are evaluating the populations below the dotted line in 1B and will announce any decisions once a final determination is made.”

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