Mayor Peduto asks Governor Wolf to immediately vaccinate school teachers

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto issued a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday, calling for the prioritization of immunizations of school teachers to help get students back to in-person learning.

The COVID-19 pandemic, the mayor wrote, “has shined a light on the inequities of our society, and unfortunately, remote learning has exacerbated academic disparities for students and families of color. Promoting vaccines for teachers would help to speed up the safe return to school, would ensure that all students receive the focused academic support that they need to succeed, and would be aligned with your administration’s commitment to an equitable response to the pandemic.”

City recreation and senior centers are closed due to the pandemic, so the mayor offered them as vaccine distribution centers for teachers and others, and offered city staff members to assist in working with local hospital and public safety officials.

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The letter reads in full:

Dear Governor Wolf,

As our Commonwealth recovers from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, I am writing to encourage you to take the necessary steps to ensure that teachers can be vaccinated immediately. This measure would help to create a safer environment for students, many of whom have fallen behind academically while attempting to shift to at-home learning, expedite the safe reopening of schools, and alleviate the concerns of teachers who are apprehensive about returning to unsafe conditions. The City of Pittsburgh stands ready to assist the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and other partners with the distribution of vaccines to educators in our community.

The change to virtual learning has greatly impacted students and families, forcing them to scramble to secure the child care options, technology, and other supports needed to learn at home. This crisis has shined a light on the inequities of our society, and unfortunately, remote learning has exacerbated academic disparities for students and families of color. Promoting vaccines for teachers would help to speed up the safe return to school, would ensure that all students receive the focused academic support that they need to succeed, and would be aligned with your administration’s commitment to an equitable response to the pandemic.

Even with school reopening guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prioritizing access to the vaccine for educators remains a critical tool to ensure that teachers feel genuinely safe in the classroom, students can learn successfully, and families feel comfortable returning their children to in-person learning environments. Teachers are most effective when they feel comfortable, and providing teachers with rapid access to vaccines would create a healthier setting for them and the students who learn from them. If your administration is willing to expedite the distribution of vaccines to educators, the City of Pittsburgh can provide staff support as needed, coordinate with local hospitals and public safety professionals, and offer our neighborhood recreation and senior centers as community-based vaccine distribution sites.

Again, I encourage you to offer immediate access to vaccines for teachers. This action would promote the safe reopening of schools, reduce stress for parents and families, improve all students’ academic performance, and mitigate teachers’ apprehension about unsafe working conditions. The City is willing and able to assist your administration with this important endeavor. Thank you for your consideration and for your leadership throughout this global crisis.

Sincerely,

William Peduto

Mayor of Pittsburgh

Wolf’s office issued a statement regarding the mayor’s request:

“The Wolf Administration is following the CDC’s recommendations, which have been established to get vaccine out as efficiently as possible in a way prioritizing the most vulnerable to serious illness. We would encourage Mayor Peduto to direct his advocacy on this issue to the federal government if he believes the phased rollout should be changed.”

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