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.

Events

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.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.
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.
Sponsor
Privacy & Security Webinar
Navigating Modern Data Protection & Privacy in Education
Explore the modern landscape of data loss prevention in education and learn actionable strategies to protect sensitive data.
Content provided by  Symantec & Carahsoft

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 The Truth About Teachers' Summers
Teachers endure many misperceptions about their jobs. Perhaps the most egregious has to do with their summer break.
5 min read
Orange sandals by a pool.
iStock/Getty
Teaching Profession In Their Own Words How This 'Goofy Science Teacher' Made It to the U.S. Open in Golf
High school science teacher and golf coach Colin Prater just played in one of the world's most prestigious golf tournaments.
6 min read
Colin Prater hits his tee shot on the 10th hole during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf tournament on June 12, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C.
Colin Prater hits his tee shot on the 10th hole during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf tournament on June 12, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C.
Frank Franklin II/AP
Teaching Profession Teachers: Start Your School Supplies Shopping Now With These Discounts
As teachers start back-to-school shopping, Education Week compiled a list of educator discounts that can reduce costs.
3 min read
Photo of school supplies.
iStock
Teaching Profession What Happened—and What Didn't—at This Year's NEA Representative Assembly
The unusual ending of the biggest assembly for the nation’s largest teachers’ union led to an incomplete annual meeting.
5 min read
Protestors gather outside of the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on Wednesday, July 3, 2024, during the NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly.
Protestors gather outside of the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on Wednesday, July 3, 2024, during the NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly.
Brooke Schultz/Education Week