LAUSD Teachers Able To Get Their Vaccinations

Jayda Vaifanua, Staff Writer

As the COVID-19 vaccinations are getting distributed to everyone, the vaccines are being prioritized to those that are 65 and older. The vaccines will then go to essential workers like teachers which will increase the chance to reopen the schools within LA county. Several teachers have since then been eligible to get the vaccine and be able to return to the classroom.

Yes, I took the first COVID-19 vaccine on 2/17/2021,” said Joseph O’Neil, a middle school teacher.

O’Neil got his vaccine shot not too long ago. As he goes further into detail about the vaccine he added,“ I believe it is important that teachers as well as everyone get the vaccine,”. O’Neil believes that it is in everyone’s best interest to get the vaccine for the safety of others and ourselves.

 “Yes, I believe that if you are going back to school you should get the vaccine and your family members should also get the vaccine,” said O’Neil.

Teachers must get tested for COVID-19 before coming back to school. The vaccines have been distributed to LAUSD staff and teachers, so it is important that students get tested to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. O’Neil said, “As long as everyone has the vaccine and are still covering their mouth and nose with a mask when around others, stay at least 6 feet away from others, avoid crowds, and wash their hands often.” O’Neil hopes that long as these guidelines are being followed, teachers and students will be able to return to campus.

As we proceed into the process of getting the vaccines to everyone, LAUSD has decided to return to school with no specified date around the end of April. Students will be attending classes online like they currently are but in a classroom with their advisory teacher.

“The vaccine, it is not a magical cure-all. It will help reduce the spread and infection rate, but will not eliminate it by itself.  Other safety protocols should be adhered to and should not be overlooked simply because people are receiving the vaccine. I would not feel safe returning to school without knowing my coworkers are vaccinated as well. If they would run out of the vaccine, I would feel places would have to wait to open up until they got more vaccines for all the people,” said O’Neil.

Frustration and fear arises with some people thinking what will happen if we soon start to run out of vaccines. O’Neil expressed his thoughts on how he thinks others should maintain their composure until they get more than enough vaccines for everyone. 

“If it’s the next step for us to return back to school safely then I would believe that it’s necessary,” said Natalie Olivares, a junior.

Olivares believes that if it means teachers having to get vaccinated will help us return safely back to campus, then she agrees with the thought of teachers getting their vaccines.

“I believe that it’s just one step for them to receive the vaccination because we also need to consider many ways to prevent students and staff from being vulnerable to the virus,” Olivares said. “ It is being considered that if we have enough vaccines for everyone, schools will be reopening. As of right now, LAUSD district only has 10% of the vaccines. If they want to return to school in-person learning then yes, otherwise if they do not then they should continue online learning with students who don’t feel safe returning back to school.”

Regarding the hybrid and online learning, Olivares speaks out on how if students and teachers want to return back to in-person instruction, teachers should proceed to get the vaccination. However they must follow all protocols if returning for hybrid learning.

“Most likely bring in more people who are vaccinated and available or just incorporate the little staff that we have as much as possible,” said Olivares.

Olivares explained that whoever has been vaccinated and available is better than having less staff that have not been vaccinated yet. Even if that means only a little bit of staff have been vaccinated and available for teaching, it is better than having less staff who have not been vaccinated and might have a chance of catching or spreading COVID to more people.

“Personally I would not unless I really need to,” said Olivares.

Olivares stated that she is not in the need of the COVID vaccination since she is not a priority. It is only unless she is in need or required to get it will she accept the vaccination.

“Yes [I’ve been tested for COVID] and every time it’s been negative,” said Raymund Quinto, the high school volleyball coach. 

Quinto said that he went to get tested for COVID-19. He added that he never got COVID because he adhered to social distancing guidelines.

“I think it’s a good idea [to get the vaccine], it would keep them safe and their families,” said Quinto.

He expresses that it is good that they should get the vaccine for the safety of them and their families. As well, it would also be beneficial to the public. However he also stated that, “I think so, I would feel safer if i got vaccinated.”

Quinto expressed in his point of view as if you get the vaccine, it will be something that he thinks that would benefit others and make yourself feel safer and also less worried about.

“I think the government needs to give as much vaccines especially for us who work at schools as much as the frontline workers do. Number one questions is why are we running out of vaccines if the government knows we need it,’’ said Quinto.

Quinto argued that the government should provide people with the amount of vaccines that are needed, not just only for people who work at schools but for the people who are in need for it too such as hospital patients who have COVID.

“Teachers can be a large spreader through the number of people they come in contact with. If they are able, teachers should be vaccinated,” said Elliott Barnett, an English teacher. 

Barnett stated that he has not had the opportunity yet to receive the COVID vaccination, but believes that all teachers should prioritize getting the vaccine. Barnett said that he thinks the spread of COVID-19 can be within the certain amount of people teachers interact with.

Barnett explains that, it is better to know that the staff are all vaccinated to resume in-class learning. Although, he added that we can all agree that even though we have the vaccination for the people in need and those required for it, getting the vaccination will not automatically make the coronavirus go away.

“If there is a shortage of vaccines, my question would be based on the production and distribution, if it’s a ploy to price gouge medications, or a potential political stunt to convince Americans to think or feel a certain way.  We live in a country that often prioritizes profit over people, so I would question the reality of whether we were actually “running out of vaccines” or if the political agenda wants us consumers to think we’re running out of vaccines.  We already have anti-vaxxers destroying or compromising vaccines, which is a federal offense,” said Barnett.

Barnett suspects that there is more than meets the eye if a vaccine shortage happens. He wishes that it isn’t the case that shortages are a result of corporate greed, but lamented the idea knowing it is still a possibility.

“I think that if teachers get vaccinated it would be great and it would be one step closer for students to go back to school, but if the teachers get vaccinated and students don’t, it doesn’t matter because the students are the ones close together and sharing desks at the same time.”, said Anjali Ponce, an eighth grader.

Ponce gave her thoughts on how if teachers get their vaccination, it will be a safe step in order for students to go back to school. With the announcement of LAUSD teachers being able to return to school, it can hopefully give students back some normality amidst the pandemic, but she believes they’re at a greater risk since they’re not vaccinated. 

“It would be safe for the teachers and staff if they go back to school but not for the students,” said Ponce. “If the teachers and staff go back then schools could start up again but if students don’t get vaccinated then what’s the point of teachers getting vaccinated if they can’t teach safely.” 

Ponce fears that having unvaccinated students back in the classroom will only cause another spike in COVID-19 cases. Students like Ponce can opt to go into virtual learning instead of hybrid learning if concerned of catching the coronavirus. LAUSD families are being asked to complete a survey that you can find on the RDPS website to choose between hybrid or virtual learning. Surveys are due on Friday, March 19. 

With plans being set to get LAUSD students back in the classroom, teachers urge one another to get their vaccine to ensure the safety of their students. Feelings are mixed for students on returning to school, but are glad that steps are being made for it to become a tangible possibility.