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DPS students start online petition to get teachers vaccinated before returning to class

School safety
Posted at 5:36 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 19:50:25-05

DENVER -- Most elementary school kids are back to in-person learning in some fashion. But as we get closer to the older students going back, there's a group of high schoolers in Denver Public Schools making a push for teacher vaccinations.

“The biggest thing was the vaccines and the ability to be vaccinated,” Denver East senior Kai Vong said.

He and a group of friends started an online petition to ask DPS to have teachers vaccinated before returning to in-person learning.

“We’re so close and months away from receiving that, so if we could just wait a little bit longer, we don’t have to put any more risk lives at risk,” he said.

Vong says he'll go back but wants to continue pushing for teacher vaccinations.

“Teachers and staff are the foundation of DPS, and if a majority or even a lot of teachers want to be vaccinated they should be prioritized,” he said.

Denver7 reached out to DPS about the vaccination process and the petition, which now has more than 1,400 signatures and received a statement from the district, saying:

“Denver Public Schools is deeply committed to making the COVID-19 vaccine available to all staff when it is available. Currently, we have notified about 1,600 school-based staff who are now eligible to receive the vaccine and we are working diligently to identify partners that have enough of the vaccine and the structures set up to deliver them. The safety of our staff and students remains a top priority. We’ve worked in collaboration with health experts and DPS educators to create a plan for a safe return to in-person learning, with several layers of safeguards in place to protect the health of our staff and students.”

Vaccinating educators has been a high priority for the state's teachers association.

“We do believe that prioritizing educators on the vaccine as a key component of course,” Colorado Education Association President Amie Baca-Oehlert said in December.

But either way, Vong says they'll continue with their drive to gather support.

“Hopefully something changes and we’re going to continue doing advocacy work. Supporting our teachers as best as we can,” Vong said.