In his daily news briefing, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is pushing for in-person learning by March 1 – and to have teachers vaccinated ahead of that date, as plans for the next phase of reopening the state become clearer.
“There’s no replacement for that interaction you get in the classroom,” Ohio Education Association board director Stacy Recker said. “For the governor to say March 1, that’s our goal -- that’s music to every teacher and student’s ear.”
The next step, according to Recker, is all about consistency.
“Not only for ourselves, but for our kids to be in school with us,” she said. “So we get the best educational experience for every student.”
Each day of remote learning comes with its own specific challenges.
“Whether you’re an elementary school teacher and you’re trying to wrangle little guys on Zoom (and) they’re showing you their pets, or you’re a high school teacher, and it’s a screen with circles on it all day long, it’s really hard to get them to talk,” Recker said.
Like all educators and school administrators, she just wants what’s best for the students.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Recker said. “There are days when I just wanted to cry because I can’t talk to kids – can’t make sure they’re understanding.”
DeWine’s message Wednesday focused on a consistent plan for schools moving forward.
“We’ll offer vaccines to all schools that want to go back or remain in person,” he said. “Any child in the state that wants to be back in school to be back in school by March first.”
For Recker, the message was loud and clear. “It says Ohio values education,” she said. “Here are your teachers, educators, education support professionals. You’re enough of a priority that we want to give you consistency. I think that’s music to everyone’s ears.”
She said she hopes teachers from urban districts and those hit hardest by the pandemic will have priority when it comes to being vaccinated.
“They should definitely be ‘the’ priority,” Recker said. “I want Cincinnati Public teachers to get it first so that their communities, their students, parents feel safe in sending their kids back.”
DeWine said the next round of vaccines could come as soon as mid-January, but he couldn’t promise an exact timeline.
"The idea that we could be vaccinated before March 1, and be even safer, is fantastic," Recker said.