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Two Republican legislators from Monmouth County, Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso and Declan O’Scanlon, are calling on Governor Murphy to prioritize teachers as the state moves forward with a more generous plan for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Beginning today, New Jersey residents 65 and older, as well as those with pre-existing medical conditions (which includes 2 million smokers), can register on the state’s website for a vaccination. Those who work in health care, prisons, long-term health facilities, police, and firefighters are already prioritized. The more generous guidelines put 4.47 million residents up next (although New Jersey has received, in total, 654,900 doses).
Yet NJ teachers who are under 65 and without pre-existing conditions have to wait. This means students, struggling with remote instruction, will have to wait too.
From the Star-Ledger:
“Other states, like New York, have prioritized educators and since the administration often follows lockstep with them, why aren’t we doing that here?” said Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso, R-Monmouth.
The state is absolutely right to expand eligibility to older, vulnerable populations, said Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth. But teachers should be included in the expansion, especially considering Gov. Phil Murphy’s stance that schools need to be open, O’Scanlon said.
“They have acknowledged that prolonged, fully remote learning has impacts on our students,” O’Scanlon said. “The best, obvious way to ensure we can keep kids in school is by immediately expanding eligibility to our teachers.”
Out of New Jersey’s 584 traditional school districts, only 79 are offering full-time, in-person instruction. Some districts — like Newark, Trenton, and Jersey City —may not open this school year at all.