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When Will It End? Teachers Unions May Use Vaccine News as Another Excuse to Delay School

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Pfizer released some rather welcoming news on Wednesday, which Cortney reported on, that the Pfizer clinical trials on children aged 12-15 was 100 percent effective.

A press release from Pfizer noted that "The companies plan to submit these data to the FDA and EMA for a requested amendment to the Emergency Use Authorization of BNT162b2" and that there also is an ongoing study in children aged 6 months-11 years. "The 5 to 11 year-old cohort started dosing last week and the companies plan to initiate the 2 to 5 year-old cohort next week," the press release read.

Again, this is welcoming news. If you're worried it will give the teachers another excuse though to delay returning to the classroom, you're not alone.

As Jessica Dickler for CNBC reported on Wednesday, "Vaccinating kids could slow school reopenings, National Parents Union fears." According to Dickler " Keri Rodrigues, co-founder and president of the National Parents Union, an education advocacy group, said the drugmaker’s announcement could provide some superintendents with another excuse to delay in-person learning this spring." Rodrigues is quoted as saying "We think this is great news, but it shouldn’t be used as another goal post we need to meet before reopening schools."

Indeed, "it shouldn’t be used as another goal post we need to meet before reopening schools," but it likely will be. Fairfax County School District unions said students must be fully vaccinated before teachers would return to the classrooms, as Guy reported back in January with his aptly titled "Disgrace: Teachers' Union Cuts Vaccine Line, Then Refuses to Return to Classrooms Anyway." 

Will the Fairfax County union demands become the new norm now, then? Heaven forbid. 

If that is the new norm now then, and it becomes the case that students must be vaccinated in order to in-learning person to return as it was, this raises concerns for parents rights. Parents have already been through enough when their students have been out of school for so long, some for even more than a year.

The National Parents Union tweeted about another point when it comes to vaccinating children. According to NBC's Mohammed Syed and Corky Siemaszko, "Parents cheer news that Pfizer vaccine is safe for kids, but not everybody is convinced." 

Reporting mentions that when it came to the clinical trial results, "Some of the loudest applause came from parents with high-risk children who have already been vaccinated," as makes sense. We want to protect those who are at "high-risk" the most from the Wuhan Coronavirus, and thus they should be prioritized for the vaccine. 

The piece also advocates for informed consent on vaccines. In highlighting Paige Wallis, of Malden, Massachusetts, whose 16-year old daughter, Sylvie, got her first Pfizer vaccine recently, Syed and Siemaszko reported that "Wallis, 44, said she had no qualms, because her family is pro-vaccines. Her father and her sister are polio survivors. But she said she made a point of reading the opposing views, as well, before deciding to vaccinate Sylvie."

Then there's results from the National Parents Union Survey, which included 1,001 respondents asked about "COVID-19 AND CURRENT CONCERNS in January. 

One question asked "When COVID-19 vaccines become available for children, do you plan to get your children vaccinated?" A total of 60 percent answered "yes," with 35 percent responded "right away," and 25 percent responding "yes, but not right away." Twenty-two percent said "no, will not" and 18 percent are "unsure."

Now the "not right away, the "no," and the "unsure" categories aren't exactly full of anti-vaxxers. In follow-up questions for both respondents, "I don’t have my children vaccinated against any diseases." was the least common response chosen. Four percent of the "not right away" respondents chose this, and five percent of the "no" crowd chose this answer. Only 1 percent of the "unsure" respondents chose it.

One particularly noteworthy and especially relevant question asked parents "Which of the following would be absolutely necessary in order for you to feel safe sending your children to school, meaning you would not send your children to school without this happening? Please select all that apply."

The least common specified result to choose from was "Schools requiring all students to get vaccinated against COVID-19," which had 35 percent support. "My children getting vaccinated against COVID-19," had 36 percent. 

When it comes to hearing their thoughts on Twitter about the Pfizer clinical study results, never mind what it means for sending children back to school, from the National Education Association and its president, Becky Pringle, as well as from the American Federation of Teachers and its president, Randi Weingarten, here's what I found.

There were plenty of tweets on many political matters, retweeting Democrat like President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, and numerous tweets celebrating #TransDayofVisibility.

It's hardly a matter of "the time to let down our guard." The CDC earlier this month adjusted their guidelines of at least 6 feet social distancing in the classroom to at least 3 feet, as I reported on. This emphasizes yet again that the guidelines and groups such as the  American Academy of Pediatrics have been advocating for in-person learning and the benefits of it for some time now. Teachers unions weren't ready to get on board with it though.

Sadly, it's not entirely surprising that the teachers unions would resist as much as they can, but it does mean parents need to advocate for their children that much more. 


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