K-12 Teachers Need Vaccination Now Says CDC Guidance

CDC’s Operational Strategy

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that, “schools and communities should protect themselves and others in their community:”

“As communities plan safe delivery of in-person instruction in K-12 schools, it is essential to decide when and under what conditions to help protect students, teachers, and staff and slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It is critical for schools to open as safely and as soon as possible, and remain open, to achieve the benefits of in-person learning and key support services. To enable schools to open safely and remain open, it is important to adopt and consistently implement actions to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 both in schools and in the community. This means that all community members, students, families, teachers, and school staff should take actions to protect themselves and others where they live, work, learn, and play. In short, success in preventing the introduction and subsequent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools is connected to and facilitated by preventing transmission in the broader community.”

CDC, Feb. 14, 2021

Teachers Given High Priority

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends vaccination for teachers and staff, and in communities as soon as supply allows:

“Teachers and school staff hold jobs critical to the continued functioning of society and are at potential occupational risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2. State, territorial, local and tribal (STLT) officials should consider giving high priority to teachers in early phases of vaccine distribution. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that frontline essential workers, including those who work in the education sector (teachers and school staff), be prioritized for vaccine allocation in phase 1b, following health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities (phase 1a). Vaccinating teachers and school staff can be considered one layer of mitigation and protection for staff and students.

Strategies to minimize barriers to accessing vaccination for teachers and other frontline essential workers, such as vaccine clinics at or close to the place of work, are optimal. Access to vaccination should not be considered a condition for reopening schools for in-person instruction. Even after teachers and staff are vaccinated, schools need to continue mitigation measures for the foreseeable future, including requiring masks in schools and physical distancing”

CDC, Feb. 14, 2021

Health and Equity

There is a strong recommendation to consider the communities that have been more affected and determine to what degree those families and children have been disadvantaged:

“The absence of in-person educational options may disadvantage children from low-resourced communities, which may include large representation of racial and ethnic minority groups, English learners, and students with disabilities. Plans for safe delivery of in-person instruction in K-12 schools must consider efforts to promote fair access to healthy educational environments for students and staff. Thus, essential elements of school reopening plans should take into account the communities and groups that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 infections and severe outcomes. Schools play a critical role in promoting equity in education and health for groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19.”

CDC, Feb. 14, 2021

CDC Screening Testing Priorities

The CDC also recommends a priority list for screening and testing:

“When determining which individuals should be selected for screening testing, schools and public health officials may consider prioritizing teachers and staff over students given the higher risk of severe disease outcomes among adults. In selecting among students, schools and public health officials may choose to prioritize high school students, then middle school students, then elementary school students, where applicable.”

CDC, Feb. 14, 2021


The CDC’s operational strategy is that schools open soon with safety protocols in place to keep students and teachers safe. They recommend putting teachers at a high priority for the vaccine and rigorous testing for schools to mitigate spread:

  1. Consistent implementation of layered mitigation strategies to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools
  2. Indicators of community transmission to reflect level of community risk
  3. Phased mitigation and learning modes based on levels of community transmission

The following public health efforts provide additional layers of COVID-19 prevention in schools:

  • Testing to identify individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection to limit transmission and outbreaks
  • Vaccination for teachers and school staff, and in communities, as soon as supply allows
Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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