By: KDKA-TV’s Jessica Guay
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Teachers and staff in Pennsylvania have been pushed to the front of the line for the COVID-19 vaccine, in an effort to welcome students back into schools as quickly as possible.READ MORE: West Virginia Lawmakers Approve Needle Exchange Regulations
Certain groups will be prioritized first, including teachers and staff who work with students in PreK and elementary, students with disabilities and students who are English learners.
Teachers are feeling a sigh of relief after Governor Tom Wolf announced on Wednesday that they will move up to Phase 1A for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The teachers will be first in line for the one-dose Johnson & Jonson vaccine.
Brittany McCann is a special education teacher at Pittsburgh Colfax. Her students have been remote since the pandemic started.
“It was such a relief, it’s such a blessing,” said McCann. “Our whole goal has always been to get back to the kids. My kids work so hard and I’m so proud of them. But there is just something special about being in school and being with them.”
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For the students already back in the classroom, this move will help keep them there. Marilyn Adams is a second-grade teacher at Poff Elementary School in the Hampton Township School District. Her students have been using in-person learning since October.
“I think it’s more of a relief than an excitement,” Adams said. “We are thrilled to be moving to 1A, just for the safety of us and the safety of the kids.”
It can be difficult for younger students to stay socially distant.
“Our little ones just don’t quite understand the social distancing boundaries and as much as we say keep your distance, they are very close to us. I think the sooner we are vaccinated, the safer we will be,” Adams said.
This new push for educators is also reassuring for parents.
“The teachers need to be protected, so I’m really happy to hear they are considered essential because we always thought that all along,” said Nandry Smith, whose son is in second grade at Poff Elementary SchoolMORE NEWS: Two Men Assaulted In Carrick Home Invasion, Police Investigating
You can find more information from the Pennsylvania Department of Education here.