COVID-19 vaccine

Teachers Say They Want the COVID-19 Vaccine Before They Head Back to the Classroom

"I don’t understand why we have to risk our lives when we’re so close to a vaccine," a Chicago teacher said

Residents walk dogs outside of Pritzker Elementary School
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Children who have been marooned at home for months by the pandemic are slowly returning to classrooms, but many teachers say they won’t go back until they’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine, NBC News reports.

Especially in Chicago, the nation’s third-largest public school district, where teachers who were supposed to return to classrooms Wednesday worked from home again and are once more threatening to strike.

“Community spread is still so high in Chicago, and so many people are sick and dying. I don’t know how to keep myself safe in an old building with so many people," said Kirstin Roberts, a preschool teacher at the Brentano Math and Science Academy, on the city’s northwest side. “I don’t understand why we have to risk our lives when we’re so close to a vaccine.”

While researchers from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended reopening schools as soon as possible with mask-wearing and other safeguards in place, the teachers most resistant to the idea were in districts like Chicago that have had little to no in-person education since March, Dennis Roche of Burbio, a data service that audits school opening information, said.

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