AR Vaccine Plan Must Prioritize Educators

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas’s COVID vaccine plan is still in its beginning stages, far short of the number of doses needed. Our state’s eventual plan needs to prioritize medical workers, nursing home residents, and also the educational staff and professionals who put themselves at risk on a daily basis.

“The people of Arkansas deserve a clear, straightforward plan on COVID vaccinations. And right now, our schools are being left out of the vaccine conversation. Our elected leaders need to immediately lay out a schedule to: deliver the vaccine to school sites, vaccinate school personnel for free; and promote the importance of getting the vaccine to all educators and staff,” said D.P.A. Chairman Michael John Gray. “Schools are a central hub for all of our communities. Prioritizing vaccinations in our schools is not only the right thing to do, it also helps protect each one of us in our own homes.”

More than a dozen Arkansas educators have died due to COVID-19 this year. The Arkansas Department of Health’s most recent Educational Institutions Report shows there are 2,214 active cases among staff members, students, and teachers in the state’s public school districts. The total number of positive cases has surpassed 25,000 of which more than 17,000 are students. State officials project these numbers will continue to grow without any changes to behavior, public health policy, or vaccination deliveries.