Diocesan News

Local Catholic Schools Request to be Included in Vaccine Distribution

A health care worker at Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital and Health Center in Glendale, Calif., draws the COVID-19 vaccine from a vial Dec. 17, 2020. (Photo: CNS/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)

WINDSOR TERRACE — Local school superintendents have asked that Catholic school educators be included when city public school educators eventually become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This comes as vaccine distribution continues to be criticized for its slow rollout at the city and state levels.

The superintendents of schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of New York wrote a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza on Jan. 5, to make the request.

“Since reopening our school buildings in September, educators, administrators, and staff have been on the frontlines, holding our educational institutions together,” the letter stated. “They have helped our students and families return to a sense of normalcy, and most importantly, they have kept our communities safe. It is imperative that they be given the protection they deserve as soon as possible to remain safe and continue this essential work.”

Brooklyn and Queens Superintendent of Catholic Schools Dr. Thomas Chadzutko additionally told The Tablet that they “have asked for assurances that Catholic school educators are included in early vaccine rollouts, in keeping with the Governor’s announcement that educators would be part of early phases.”

The COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed in phases to groups of people with increased risk of exposure or severe COVID-19 illness.

“Phased distribution will take time, with vaccines not expected to be widely available to all New Yorkers until mid-2021,” according to the city’s Department of Health. Phases of distribution in New York City being determined by New York State and may change as the situation evolves.

Currently, in Phase 1a, groups eligible to receive the vaccine in New York City include health care workers and residents and staff in group living facilities. Eligible groups who could receive the vaccine “likely starting February 2021” under Phase 1b include people age 75 and older, as well as essential frontline workers who can’t physically distance and have frequent in-person contact with others (to be determined by the state). Under Phase 1c, eligible groups who could receive the vaccine “likely starting March-April 2021” include people ages 65 to 74, individuals with certain underlying health conditions (to be determined by the state), and all other essential workers (to be determined by the state).

On Jan. 4, Mayor Bill de Blasio asked in a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo that the number of eligible New Yorkers be expanded to incorporate more populations — including teachers and school nurses “who teach and protect our kids.”

In-person teachers and school staff currently are considered eligible under Phase 2 of the rollout, as outlined in the NYS Department of Health’s draft COVID-19 Vaccination Administration Program announcement on Oct. 18.

More than 100,000 doses have been administered to healthcare workers and the staff and residents of long-term care facilities across New York City, according to a Jan. 4 letter from the mayor.

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