Gopal, Houghtaling & Downey Urge Governor to Prioritize Teachers for Vaccine Distribution

The legislators request Governor Murphy add teachers, support staff and daycare workers to Group 1B for vaccine distribution across the state.

OCEAN TWP - Senator Vin Gopal and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey sent letters to Governor Murphy and the Department of Health requesting teachers, school support staff and daycare workers be added to Group 1B for vaccine distribution across the state. Understanding that demand is currently also greater than supply, Gopal, Houghtaling and Downey are also urging the Murphy Administration to begin meeting with school districts to discuss their potential vaccination plans for their employees who wish to receive it between now and this August. Planning now can help get districts ready for full in-person learning and normalcy for September 2021 which will greatly benefit our students, teachers and families.

“Teachers have practiced an immense amount of adaptability within their own teaching styles in light of the circumstances at hand,” Senator Gopal (D-Long Branch) said. “The change to virtual instructions and the constant uncertainty of the school year has not come without difficulties, yet the teachers have persevered going above and beyond what was expected of them. While they continue to do their job to keep the young minds of New Jersey engaged and active, we need to ensure they are protected against the virus they are potentially exposed to each and every day. Adding them to the Group 1B category will show our state appreciates what our teachers, support staff and daycare workers have done for our children, and will also show we recognize the dangers they face every day to do that job.”

Assemblyman Houghtaling (D-Neptune) stated, “As teachers continue to put their own health in jeopardy in the classroom each day, it is only fair for these groups to be prioritized into the Group 1B phase so they can be protected while they complete their essential job for our state. Throughout the entirety of the pandemic, the educators of New Jersey have worked tirelessly to ensure that our students receive access to the highest caliber of education in both virtual and hybrid settings. However, in order for teachers to feel confident in going back to school full time in the classroom, they need to be able to have the option to be vaccinated. We do not want to unnecessarily disrupt student learning any further, and bringing teachers, support staff and daycare workers into Group 1B will help bring back a sense of normalcy to our community.”

“As a mother, I have seen firsthand the remarkable jobs teachers and support staff have done to make an otherwise impossible situation not only possible, but look easy,” said Assemblywoman Downey (D-Freehold). “They have maintained outstanding leadership and passion during these times, and now more than ever the students rely on the consistency and guidance from them. The State needs to recognize the tremendous effort and sacrifice teachers, support staff, and daycare workers have endured and prioritize this group of individuals to receive the vaccine that can help save lives. As they continue to work in classrooms and schools with students coming in person, they will continue to be at risk, and we must give them the opportunity to protect themselves if they choose to do so.”