Letters to the Editor

Vaccinate our teachers

Dear Governor Baker,

We, the elected municipal leaders of the City of Everett, respectfully request that you reconsider the classification of Early Education and K-12 teachers within Phase 2 to receive the same vaccination priority as seniors who are 75 or older, 65 or older, and individuals with two or more comorbidities to ensure that they may receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible prior to returning to school. We stand united with the Everett Teachers Association, and support the recent efforts by the Everett School Committee, Superintendent Priya Tahiliani, and Mayor Carlo DeMaria in making the request that our teachers receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine prior to any type of in-person return. We would like to specifically detail the circumstances in our city that emphasize the urgency of this request: – Everett has been in the high-risk “red” category with some of the highest infection rates in the state since the beginning of the pandemic to date. While school districts have been asked by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to bring students back to the classrooms as soon as possible, we have not had an opportunity to consider a safe return due to the high number of daily cases. – Everett students have not returned to school since March of 2020. – 66.2 percent of our students speak English as a second language, 27.1 percent are English Language Learners, 18.1 percent are students with disabilities, 77.2 percent are high needs students, and 61.1 percent of our students are economically disadvantaged. These students need classroom time. – As per a survey conducted by the Everett Teachers Association on January 7, 2021, 19.85 percent of the teachers have indicated that they would seek potential leave options in the event of an in-person return with no vaccination. 0.76 percent would consider an early retirement, and 2.84 percent would leave the Everett Public Schools. This makes staffing our buildings for adequate learning conditions extremely challenging. As a majority minority working class community that is densely populated, our residents have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic. Many of our residents are considered essential workers. These residents are carrying out essential services during this pandemic and compromising their own health and their families while working in transportation, restaurants, supermarket/grocery stores, caregiving, hospitality, maintenance, etc. Given our unique circumstances and the devastation our diverse community has suffered due to their high exposure, we urge you to consider each municipality according to their specific needs. One formula does not fit all. We believe that prioritizing a return to in-person education should include treating teachers as the frontline essential workers that they are. Several other states, including Connecticut, Maine and New York, have placed educators in their first phase of vaccine distribution. Reclassifying teachers as part of the first two priority groups in Phase 2 would guarantee a safer and faster return to normalcy for our district and our community. We appreciate your time and consideration.

Council President Wayne Matewsky

Councilor

Gerly Adrien

Councilor

John F. Hanlon

Councilor

Michael Marchese

Councilor

Richard DellIsola

Councilor Fred Capone

Councilor

Stephanie Martins

Councilor

Anthony DiPierro

Councilor

Jimmy Tri Le

Councilor Ward 3

City Councilor

Rosa DiFlorio

Councilor

Michael McLaughlin

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