LANCASTER — Lancaster School District trustees on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution in support of expedited COVID-19 vaccinations for educators despite a shortage of vaccines in Los Angeles County for those who wish to take it.
The Board action came after Los Angeles County Public Health officials announced elementary school campuses may be permitted to reopen for in-person instruction due to a decline in COVID-19 rates.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday said that starting March 1, the state will begin reserving 10% of the overall supply of vaccines to be administered to teachers and other essential workers.
“As commendable as this resolution is, we need to be clear that it by no mean changes the current status of the lack of availability of the vaccine for those who wish to take it,” teacher Brana Flynn said. “Assuming that we had access to the vaccine tomorrow morning, you still need six weeks from the first shot to be good to go. And that’s if we get it tomorrow, and we all know that’s not happening.”
Flynn added that she and other teachers want to be in their classrooms with their students, but only if it is safe.
“At this point, this Board cannot guarantee my safety and that of my colleagues,” Flynn said, adding that custodial staff is understaffed.
Teacher Kimberly Albrecq deemed students returning to the classroom an equity issue for all students, in particular for special education and alternative education students.
“While I do believe our teachers are doing an outstanding and amazing job in the current situation, it is almost impossible to meet all of their needs,” Albrecq said. “They must be given an opportunity to access in-person instruction and curriculum.”
A parent who called in seconded Albrecq’s comments and said the past year has been hard for her and other parents.
“I know that he is not getting the education that he’d be getting if he’s back in the classroom; I would just like for schools to reopen,” the parent said.
Another parent who is also a teacher in another District, said the Board should consider allowing small class sizes to return to campus for parents who would like that option.
Gina Whipple, president of the Teachers Association of Lancaster, said the District needs to be clear with parents what in-person instruction will look like when students do return to the classroom.
“We all know for a while, even after we’ve been vaccinated, that we’re going to have to practice social distancing,” Whipple said at the meeting. “We’re going to need to wear masks. We’re going to need to have a lot of safety protocols put into place that are not currently there.”
Whipple also said that the District also needs to think about what in-person learning will look like for students.
“I think we need to be realistic and clear about the expectation of what a return looks like, no assemblies, no lunches together,” Whipple said. “It’s not going to be business as usual.”