Teaching Profession

1 in 5 Educators Have Been Vaccinated, NEA Survey Finds

By Madeline Will — February 09, 2021 3 min read
Penny Cracas, right, with the Chester County, Pa., Health Department, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Dando, a school nurse, late last year in  West Chester, Pa.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

About one-fifth of teachers who belong to the nation’s largest teachers’ union have already been vaccinated against the coronavirus, and another 18 percent have scheduled their first shots.

That’s one of the findings from a survey by the National Education Association, which polled 3,305 active K-12 members and 117 higher education members about the COVID-19 vaccine. The results also showed that white members are nearly twice as likely as Black members to have been vaccinated—20 percent compared to 9 percent.

The survey, which was conducted Jan. 5 through Feb. 3, was released today.

As a growing body of evidence shows that in-person learning can be done safely, and more big school districts make plans to open their doors, teacher vaccinations have become a hot-button issue. Some teachers say they don’t feel safe working in person until they’ve received both doses of the vaccine, but that may take some time as the vaccine rollout has been stymied by supply shortages and logistical challenges.

Just over half of states have started vaccinating some or all teachers, according to Education Week’s vaccine tracker. Some big-city teachers’ unions—including in Chicago—have opposed reopening until their members are vaccinated. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said last week that teacher vaccinations are not a prerequisite for opening school buildings, but the White House said later Walensky was speaking in her “personal capacity” and that official guidelines would be released soon.

See also

States Interactive Where Teachers Are Eligible for the COVID-19 Vaccine
January 15, 2021
2 min read

The survey found that two-thirds of NEA members said they would be more willing to return to work in person as a result of the vaccine. Most educators are already back in classrooms, though: Only 29 percent of those surveyed are currently fully remote.

And the vaccine is not a silver bullet for making teachers feel at ease: Seventy percent of educators said they would feel safer about working in-person as a result of being vaccinated, but only a quarter will feel “much” safer.

About 70 percent of respondents said it was important to keep school buildings closed until the majority of staff have been vaccinated. Nearly all educators indicated support for other safety measures in schools: requiring students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 to isolate according to CDC guidelines, making mask-wearing mandatory, and thoroughly cleaning high-touch surfaces.

NEA President Becky Pringle said in a statement provided to Education Week last week that vaccines, along with rapid tests, can be “gamechangers for safe in-person instruction” and must be made “broadly and equitably available” and accompanied by school virus-mitigation efforts.

In a statement released alongside the survey, Pringle added that “educators want nothing more than to be back to in-person learning with our students. ... [But] most schools, especially those attended by Black, brown, indigenous, and poor white students have severely outdated ventilation systems and no testing or tracing programs to speak of. It’s time to fund proven mitigation strategies—and it’s far past time for every governor to prioritize educator vaccinations.”

Meanwhile, Randi Weingarten, the president of the other national teachers’ union, the American Federation of Teachers, has said schools could reopen safely even before teachers are vaccinated, as long as other conditions, like a robust testing system, are in place.

In some places, teachers may be waiting a while until they have the chance to be vaccinated. Several states, including Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas, have veered away from the CDC recommendations to prioritize school employees, instead basing vaccine eligibility on age and health conditions.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Trauma-Informed Practices & the Construction of the Deep Reading Brain
Join Ryan Lee-James, Ph.D. CCC-SLP, director of the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, with Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD., Vital Village Community Engagement Network; Neena McConnico, Ph.D, LMHC, Child Witness to Violence Project; and Sondra
Content provided by Rollins Center

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Reported Essay Students Aren’t the Only Ones Grieving
Faced with so many losses stemming from the pandemic, what can be done to help teachers manage their own grief?
4 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Teaching Profession Reported Essay Teachers Are Not OK, Even Though We Need Them to Be
The pandemic has put teachers through the wringer. Administrators must think about staff well-being differently.
6 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read