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'It seems like we aren’t being valued' | Indiana teachers call on Holcomb to allow vaccinations now

Teachers in all states surrounding Indiana are eligible to get the vaccine. But Gov. Holcomb has said the most vulnerable need to be vaccinated first.

INDIANA, USA — All JCPS teachers who want to get a vaccine should have one by the end of the week. Other Kentucky districts are in the midst of vaccinations too.

While Gov. Andy Beshear and leaders in Ohio, Michigan and Illinois have prioritized getting educators vaccinated, Gov. Eric Holcomb is taking a different approach.

“We are looking at the folks who are most at-risk of dying and or being hospitalized,” Holcomb said.

That means prioritizing Hoosiers who are 60 and older after health care workers. More than 90% of the state’s deaths from COVID-19 come from just 22% of the cases: those 60 and older.

Holcomb said he has talked to teachers who understand why they have to wait. However, the decision doesn’t sit well with some educators.

“We have been pointing to what our neighboring states have been doing,” said Keith Gambill, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association.

Gambill wants students to have a stable school experience, which isn’t possible when classes have to switch between remote and in-person based on numbers of positive cases in a classroom or district.

“That is a disruption in a student’s learning environment,” Gambill said. “But it’s also a huge burden to working families.”

Classes in the New Albany Floyd County district have been disrupted, like Whitney Woods’s at Greenville Elementary.

“We’ve had students that have had to quarantine because they have been close contacts with students or other people in the building,” Woods said.

Woods has also had to teach from home, because she was in contact with someone at school who tested positive.

While she’s glad educators in other states are getting their vaccines, Woods has been disheartened to see teachers in Louisville who have been teaching completely remotely get vaccinated before those in Indiana.

“It seems like we aren’t being valued for what we’re doing, because we’ve been fully in person since August,” Woods said.

Gambill said ISTA will continue to call on the governor’s office to allow teachers to get the vaccine sooner rather than later.

RELATED: 'No more goalpost-moving': McConnell calls out JCPS board's reluctance to return to class

RELATED: Indiana youth football coach helps pay off school lunch debt

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