The Brunswick School Board wants Gov. Janet Mills and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah to prioritize teachers in the state’s COVD-19 vaccination process.

The board wants the state to designate all pre-kindergarten through Grade 12 teachers as “certain critical frontline workers” that “be given immediate priority in phase 1B” of the vaccine distribution outline.

According to the Maine CDC website, the specific “critical frontline workers” that will be included in phases 1B and 1C are “to be determined.”

If the state determines that teachers are designated under 1B, which the federal CDC recommends, they would qualify for vaccination between February and April. If the state decides teachers fall under 1C, they would not qualify for vaccination until May or June.

School Board Chair William Thompson was the only member who opposed the resolution during an 8-1 vote this week.

“The disease impacts people who are older more than it does younger people, and I think that they need to continue to remain the priority,” Thompson said.

Thompson said that as long as there are older community members who are not getting the vaccine, “I just can’t support vaccinating healthy 30 year olds.”

“It matters less what you do and more of how old you are, based on what your vulnerability is,” Thompson said.

“I wanted to just express my support for this resolution as well,” board member Elizabeth Sokoloff said. “I think that we can split hairs about what a frontline worker is but if we’re asking our teachers to be in buildings full of kids more than they are already, I think to me it’s a clear move to ask that they be treated differently than say someone who might have a lot more ability to isolate themselves.”

Maine Department of Health and Human Services indicated that, with a limited supply of the vaccine, it won’t likely change its designation to include teachers under 1B.

“Maine is receiving a limited supply of the vaccine from the federal government to distribute to our population which is the oldest by median age in the nation,” said DHHS spokesperson Jackie Farwell. “We have prioritized it for those 70 and older, who are most likely to suffer and die if they contract COVID-19.

“The U.S. CDC has indicated that schools, with mitigation practices, are safe environments and that their reopening should not be contingent upon vaccinating teachers,” Farwell added. “That is the case in Maine where the COVID-19 case rate in schools is far lower than that of the general population, demonstrating that schools are safer environments.”

The school board’s request follows a similar one from Superintendent Philip Potenziano.

Potenziano said that out of roughly 465 school employees, about 10 have been fully vaccinated and another 10 have their first dose and will be receiving their second dose soon. Those individuals were classified under 1A.

In an email, Potenziano said that the resolution was modeled after the Yarmouth School Department’s, and that at this time he has “not heard of any other district passing such resolution.”

The Brunswick vaccination clinic, located at Brunswick Landing, is currently offering vaccines to those in 1B who are 70 and older, firefighters or law enforcement.

As of Thursday, Feb. 11, the Maine CDC has reported 11,841 COVID-19 cases and 169 deaths in Cumberland County.

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