ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A lot of teachers in New Mexico don’t want to go back to the classroom until they’ve been vaccinated, but now a new teacher survey shows a lot of them don’t want to come back until every student has had the vaccine.
According to a recent survey by New Mexico’s chapter of the National Education Association, more than 3,000 teachers, staff, and administrators in the state are concerned about a lot of things, the vaccine is one of them. About 65% of the New Mexico educators polled say they will get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. Twenty percent were unsure and 15% said they would turn it down.
Fifty-nine percent of them said that it’s really important for all or a majority of students to get vaccinated before returning to in-person learning. Albuquerque Public School’s teacher union, which represents roughly 6,000 licensed teachers and is separate from the NEA, said they haven’t taken a stance on student vaccinations; but add that teachers are fearful of returning to in-person learning because they’re worried schools won’t have enough safety supplies or updated ventilation systems.
“They need to experience or have their peers experience a little bit about what in-person schooling is so that they can learn to trust it and as they get vaccinated we can start to bring back more and more kids in person,” said Albuquerque Teacher Federation President, Dr. Ellen Bernstein. Some COVID-19 vaccine producers are just now starting clinical trials for kids under 16 years old. Kids under 16 could start getting the vaccine in the late summer or fall if approved.
The NEA was unable to comment on the survey by the time the story aired. However, the governor’s office sent the following statement:
“It’s certainly the prerogative of individual workers to make decisions about themselves and their families and their health. But it’s also true that the state has worked tirelessly with districts to enhance the safety of school buildings and learning environments in order to ratify what the CDC has found – in-person learning can be done safely and is undoubtedly in the best interest of students and their educational well-being. New Mexico has done incredible work in reducing community spread of the virus so that we can help districts and charters make the best decisions about when and where to return to in-person learning. And as the governor and state officials have said time and again, as soon as we get more vaccine supply from the federal government, the sooner we can expeditiously get more shots into more arms across more categories of people and workers all across the state.”Nora Meyers Sackett, Press Secretary for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham