I will start by saying I am fortunate to live in a community where my child has been able to attend school daily almost all year. I have many friends and colleagues whose older children are attending school once or twice a week at best. I commend the school leadership and staff for their efforts, but sitting in a room with the same 10 children and spending a large part of the day learning via screen is not ideal.

The state has made the move to prioritize teachers over others to receive vaccination against SARS-CoV-2. To be clear, this places the health of a 25-year-old teacher ahead of a 50-year-old box store worker or food service worker. Based on existing data, this determination will result in a net increase of mortality risk across the state.

Understanding children are at increased risk when not regularly at school, this can be experienced as food insecurity, lack of mental health support, etc. In consideration of service workers’ increased risk and our children’s suffering, I would hope, once most teachers have been vaccinated, that the space limits outlined by the Maine Department of Education and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that force schools into hybrid or remote will be removed.

This would reduce many of the COVID hardships felt by children because of lack of school access and at least provide justification for delaying the vaccination for other front line workers.

Zak Harding

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