Governor Kevin Stitt announced Oklahoma teachers and support staff will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in phase two.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye said he believed in the best case scenario teachers could start getting the shot in January.
“We are not going to wait until every single front line healthcare worker gets the dose. If they are not willing to take it at that time, we are going to move on to the next person,” said Dr. Frye during a news conference on Tuesday.
Teachers were originally scheduled for vaccinations in phase three along with students.
Governor Kevin Stitt said he’s willing to talk with the State Board of Education and any district in the state to ensure in-person learning is an option for students next year.
“I will do everything. I am up here publicly saying my goal is to get every kid in school in person in January, however we can do it,” said Governor Stitt. “If you are with me, call your local school boards. Thank them for giving you an option for what’s best for your kid.”
“Our schools are open, they’re just open in a different way,” said the Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest. “This isn’t an us versus them. It’s not parents versus educators. We are all working towards the same goal.”
Priest told News 9 she’s pleased teachers will be getting the vaccine sooner than expected, but that’s not the only issue she’s concerned about.
“We should be focusing on a holistic approach. A long-term plan to get schools open,” said Priest.
Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she’s also happy teachers are no longer phase three, but she reminded everyone that it’s going to take some time to give out the vaccines.
“We are grateful that the teachers in K-12 have been lifted on that priority list. But at the same time, we need to remember that it is going to take a while for the vaccine to have the kind of protection across communities,” said Superintendent Hofmeister.
Oklahoma teacher Ashleigh Robinson said no longer being in Phase 3 of the rollout makes her feel like more of a priority.
“In conversations with some of my other teacher friends, this definitely helps us feel more prioritized in general as a state.” Said Robinson. “Because education hasn’t always been prioritized in the state.”
Health Commissioner Frye said each school district will be in charge of how the shots will be given out to staff members.