Ohio began vaccinating teachers and school staff ahead of schedule on Thursday, when workers at Cincinnati Public Schools lined up for their first COVID-19 immunizations ahead of a scheduled return to in-person learning. Kentucky educators have been told to expect their own first shots in February.
In Indiana, teachers aren’t in the plan at all.
"No poor reflection of our colleagues across the river or across the state line, but I think it's fair for Indiana teachers to rise to the top of the list now,” said Paul Ketcham, superintendent of the Batesville Community School Corporation, on Friday.
Gov. Eric Holcomb’s vaccine plan, which so far has been divided into phases 1A and 1B with no other phases publicly announced, prioritizes first responders, healthcare workers, people who live in long-term care facilities and seniors over the age of 60. Educators are not mentioned in documents outlining eligibility criteria.
Ketcham, his staff and his students have been working in-person since August 2020. Batesville High School principal Andy Allen said he views it as a matter of supporting the students — prioritizing instruction and keeping extracurriculars going despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
Allen added he wishes the state would support him by sharing when teachers will be able to get the vaccine.
"For our teachers to show up and be in school everyday, they've earned the right to have the vaccine when it's applicable to them,” Allen said.
The Indiana Coalition for Public Education, a school-focused nonprofit, hopes it can pressure Holcomb and other state leaders into fleshing out their plan so it includes educators.
A spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Health said Friday the severely limited supply of vaccine doses has forced the state to focus on seniors instead of other groups.
"We are taking an age-based approach to current expansion because age is the number one cause of hospitalizations and death due to COVID,” they wrote in a statement.
Ketcham said he understands, but hopes for school staff to be included soon.
"What I do want to make sure is knowing that the next flight, the next tier, the next plan includes those school professionals at the top of that list,” he said.