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Plan underway to provide COVID-19 vaccine to Washington state teachers

A plan in the works aims to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to teachers and school staff throughout Washington state.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — There's a plan in the works to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to teachers and school staff throughout Washington state.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and Kaiser Permanente Washington are partnering to get vaccines to educators.

The plan will include 14-20 vaccination sites along the I-5 corridor and Spokane area. These will be capable of offering vaccination to as much as 80% of school employees, according to information released Friday.

OSPI and the Department of Health are planning further efforts to find additional sites close to teachers in central Washington.

Resources will be dedicated to educators and other school employees.

The state announced K-12 teachers and staff who are 50 or older and work around children in schools will be eligible for the vaccine in February. Younger teachers will be eligible by April.

The Washington Education Association previously argued teachers need to be moved up in priority before districts look at reopening schools. The association said 61% of its members are age 50 and younger.

Following Friday's announcement, association President Larry Delaney said vaccinations should be made available to school staff now. 

"WEA’s priority remains the same – keeping our students, staff, and communities safe," he said. "We’re calling for vaccinations to be available now for educators who are working on site and as soon as possible for educators transitioning back to the classrooms. And every district needs to follow the Labor and Industries requirements and Department of Health recommendations to ensure buildings are as safe as possible.

"Local education associations are collaborating with our school districts to open schools where it’s safe or to ensure quality, equitable remote learning until it’s safe elsewhere."

The plan does not move educators ahead in vaccine prioritization. 

Some districts are not waiting for the vaccine and have already started to bring children back to their desks.