Liz McCormick Published

Vaccines Ahead For W.Va. Teachers As State Education Leaders Prepare For 2021

Group of children with face mask back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown.

West Virginia’s K-12 and higher education teachers and staff may soon be the next group of people to receive a coronavirus vaccine in the state.

During the West Virginia Board of Education’s final monthly meeting of 2020, Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch spoke to members about teachers receiving a coronavirus vaccine.

Burch said he’d been in many ongoing conversations with the governor’s coronavirus vaccine task force.

“They’ve asked for a lot of information,” Burch said. “Everything from our teaching staff that is 65 and older. And then 50 and older. Health conditions. We’re going to do a superintendent’s call here very, very soon, before the holiday.”

Burch said teachers will be prioritized following health care and frontline workers, and will be part of Phase 1-D of vaccine roll out.

Gov. Jim Justice recently outlined there will be two phases of vaccine implementation. Phase 1 has four parts and will continue through February. Phase 2, which will roll out the vaccine to the general public, is expected to begin in March.

West Virginia is currently in Phase 1-A, which focuses on critical healthcare workers and those living and working in nursing homes.

West Virginia governor Jim Justice shared his plans for allocating the coronavirus in West Virginia, pending FDA approval of a vaccine from Pfizer.

Burch also told board members about plans that are in motion to address needs in the spring. He said the focus for West Virginia schools in 2021 will be on two things specifically: recovery and the achievement gap as schools approach a post-pandemic world.

Part of those spring changes include many partnerships and a few new task forces. One task force will address teacher preparation and will launch in January.

“Everything from recruitment from other programs, other states, alternative certifications,” he said. “Rethinking the current, and I know this is difficult for some, but really rethinking the current teacher preparation program.”

Burch said this will include how to better prepare teachers for social and emotional needs.

He also said the last nine months have proven that West Virginia teachers were not prepared for the different models of teaching, such as virtual and remote.

Burch said nothing can replace being physically in a classroom, but he also said it will be important to think long term of ways to improve broadband and make sure teachers have resources necessary until classes can return full-time in a classroom.

Details on the initiatives to begin in the spring will be made available to the board of education next week.