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ConVal School Board pushes for teacher vaccinations

  • ConVal High School in Peterborough, N.H. (Monadnock Ledger-Transcript photograph) Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/27/2021 4:31:05 PM

The ConVal School Board is pushing to expedite COVID-19 vaccinations for teachers following Gov. Chris Sununu’s statement last week that “teachers don't provide emergency medical services and are not required to,” justifying their absence from Phase 1b of the state’s vaccine rollout.

While in theory that might be true, a lack of vaccines exacerbates the ongoing concern that schools could close for a lack of staffing throughout the pandemic, School Board Chair Rich Cahoon said. Francestown Elementary School closed for two weeks on Monday following a COVID-19 exposure, he said, underscoring the reality of the Board’s concerns.

The Board was prompted take a stand on vaccines for teachers due to their ongoing concerns about having to close schools for lack of staffing, Cahoon said. Although the district’s COVID-19 monitoring team is still working on how quarantine protocol will change as members of the school community are vaccinated, vaccines would presumably minimize the risk of disruptions to face-to-face instruction, the letter to the Governor read. There’s also the obvious benefit that teachers would presumably not get sick when exposed to the virus, Cahoon said. 

New Hampshire is just one of two states not vaccinating teachers in their first phase of vaccinations despite  CDC guidelines recommending they be included, according to a Jan. 20 letter circulated by the New Hampshire chapter of the National Education Association and signed by 339 New Hampshire teachers.

“While this alone is cause for concern, we are concerned that you approved members of the ski patrol -- which do not fall under the definition of first responders according to state statute to receive the vaccine in Phase 1a ahead of educators. In addition, according to the Ski Patrol Association -- those in line ahead of educators -- include volunteers, part-time and even out-of-state residents,” the letter read, with signers including two ConVal teachers, two Jaffrey-Rindge teachers, State Representative Dick Ames, and four other teachers living in the Monadnock Region.

The state updated their instructions on Monday and said that vaccines are only available to New Hampshire residents.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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