COVID-19 vaccinations begin for teachers in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Teachers and staff of schools in Philadelphia arrived at the Roberts Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.

"It was fairly easy. All we had to do is go to the portal, fill out our name, they gave us the date, and we come right out," said Andre Bell, a teacher assistant in a Philadelphia charter school.

On Monday, Pre-k to second-grade students in the School District of Philadelphia were supposed to start back on a hybrid schedule.

Now, those students are supposed to start in the classroom on March 1.

Earlier this month, the City of Philadelphia announced a COVID-19 vaccination plan that covers all employees of public, private, charter and parochial schools.

The School District of Philadelphia said the first prioritized group began receiving notifications to make appointments last week.

"It includes staff members that were working on site for months in our buildings such as our food service workers, our principals, our cleaning staff and so on. We are also prioritizing those staff who are to return with our students in the first Pre-K to second-grade group," according to Chief Talent Officer Larisa Shambaugh.

The teacher vaccinations come amid an ongoing dispute between the district and the teachers union on the safety of school buildings.

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has cited multiple concerns and has said vaccinations are not enough to ensure safety.

Superintendent Dr. William Hite maintains the district has invested $65 million in measures to keep virus transmission low.

Both sides are awaiting a ruling from a third-party mediator on whether the district has met reopening conditions.

The Roberts Center is the first site and more sites will be rolled out soon.
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