Area school officials respond to Gov. Wolf’s push to vaccinate teachers

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HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine approval will streamline the vaccination process throughout the state. On Tuesday, Governor Wolf hinted that teachers could be next in line to get vaccinated.

WTAJ spoke with local school officials about what this could mean for the area.

Todd Russell is a 9th-grade science teacher for the Hollidaysburg Area School District. He’s also President of the Hollidaysburg Area Education Association. Russell says it’s time for teachers to get vaccinated and he’s ready. He tells us “There are different levels of anxiety we have with teachers. For some, it just totally freaks them out, and for others, they’re okay as long as the mask is there and social distancing is there.”

Governor Wolf didn’t name any specifics. But based on a letter by representative Tim O’Neal, PEMA and the National Guard will be using intermediate units across the Commonwealth as clinics, specifically for teachers in early March.

Governor Wolf says “There are some really important frontline workers who I think and I think the task force believes on a bi-partisan basis should be included in that like teachers and not too far down the road, child care workers, police and fire, grocery store workers and bus drivers so as we get all these folks out, we want to do that as quickly as possible”

The Hollidaysburg Area School District began full in-person classes again on January 19th. Superintendent Dr. Robert Gildea agrees that teachers should be prioritized. He says “Of course teachers are our top priority because we want them in the classrooms but we also would love to see our paraprofessionals and our food service workers, anyone in those school buildings, our secretaries, and our administrators all get vaccinated.”

Representative O’Neal’s letter also states that the move must come with a requirement for in-person instruction.

Wolf says “That’s what we’ve been talking about in the task force and that will be a part of the announcement tomorrow.”

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