Public schools in New Mexico are going to provide in-person learning from 8 February 2021. However, as per the officials, teachers are not going to be moved up in the vaccine rollout plan to accommodate the safe reopening of schools. The Director of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky has said that schools can reopen safely even if teachers are not vaccinated against the COVID19. The officials from the CDC have said that inoculating teachers is not a precondition for the safe reopening of schools. The agency has claimed that there are enough data, which show that reopening of schools is possible as long as other precautionary measures such as social distancing and wearing masks are in place. The director of the CDC has said that teachers have been kept in the 1B category in the vaccine rollout plan, which is the second priority group. There have been fierce debates over getting students back to in-person learning. There have been some teachers’ unions, which have been asking for vaccinating teachers before they join the full-time school. Republicans have been criticizing the Biden government in the US for caving to its political allies and not doing anything concrete for allowing in-person learning across the country. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said that the government has nothing to offer other than consulting Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has become White House’s go-to source. Dr. Anthony Fauci is a US-based Infectious Disease Expert.
The White House has said that there is a need for more funding and investment to accommodate the safe reopening of schools. President Joe Biden has been considering reopening schools, provided every school has enough resources to function safely amid the pandemic. Coronavirus response coordinator from the White House has said that the government is not leaving any stone unturned to restart in-person learning in schools. He has said that Congress as well has to participate to ensure that schools can reopen and remain open safely. He has added that Congress needs to pass the coronavirus response plan, which has been proposed by the Biden government. This plan consists of an extra funding of $170 billion, which will be used for testing kits in schools, better ventilation, and will allow smaller class sizes. On the other hand, Republican leaders have said that Congress has already passed funding of $82 billion for reopening of schools in the package, which has been approved in the month of December 2020. Last week, the CDC has claimed that there is very little data that show that schools are at risk of widespread transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, if precautionary measures such as universal masking, making students sit in a spread-out manner, and ensuring better ventilation are put in place.
The Health Secretary of the New Mexico Health Department has said that some teachers have fallen into an earlier phase of 1B phase during a virtual update, which entitles them to get the vaccine right now. The teachers who are going to attend students in the class, if they are 75 years or older, are eligible for the vaccine. Some teachers who have certain underlying health issues as well meet the eligibility to be vaccinated with the first two subgroups of 1B phase. The cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Human Services Department has said the decision to allow schools to reopen before teachers are vaccinated has been taken, as during the peak days of the pandemic there have been very few cases of COVID19 among school-going children. At a time when there have been 1200 to 2000 cases of COVID19 in a day, schools have reported only 20 cases in a day. The CDC has prioritized teachers as essential workers in the vaccine rollout plan. They are next in line to receive the COVID19 vaccine. Nevertheless, the officials have not given any timeline for when this group is going to be vaccinated. The state has said that it depends on the supply of the doses. The state officials have revealed that nearly 900000 people in New Mexico are eligible to receive the vaccine. As per the report, the state has received only 316000 doses of the vaccine. Around 300000 doses of the vaccine have been distributed so far.