“I think they should’ve been higher up”: Educators weigh in on vaccine rollout plan

Published: Feb. 5, 2021 at 10:35 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -Phase 1B of vaccine rollout started in Lincoln on Friday. Many educators, who are a part of Phase 1B, are still wondering when they’ll be able to get the vaccine.

The state is using a tiered approach within Phase 1B and educators are at the bottom of the first tier. Educators are behind people 65 and up, first responders, corrections staff, utilities and homeless shelter staff.

Dawes Middle School teacher Brittney Hodges-Bolkovac said, “It might be 3 months, it might be 5 months, I could get a call and they say ‘hey Brittney you can come and get your vaccine now.’”

Hodges-Bolkovac said the school district told her it may take some time, but other teachers still have questions.

Lincoln Education Association president Rita Bennett is hearing from teachers who said, “Where are the vaccines? When are we going to get them? There are people who are really anxious to take that step.”

Teachers and staff have been working in schools since August.

LPS has 6,600 staff members and, of those, 700 have tested positive for COVID-19; about 1 in 9 school employees.

Bennett said, “The bottom line is it’s still a risky environment and we have had cases in some schools. We’ve had teachers who’ve been hospitalized with COVID so it’s not a zero-risk environment.”

Statewide, some teachers have been able to get the vaccine including some left over from vaccine clinics.

The Nebraska State Education Association said over 80% of its teachers want the vaccine, but it feels the state doesn’t appreciate their work during this pandemic.

NSEA President Jenni Benson said, “I think they should’ve been higher up on the list to say ‘okay we want our schools to stay open. we want athletics. we want these things to happen.’”

Benson is encouraging teachers who are 65 and older to apply for the vaccine now.

She also wants to see the state get more involved with vaccine rollout.

“We’d like FEMA to be involved so we can set up bigger sites and be able to do more when we’re ready,” Benson said.

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