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Falmouth School Board votes to request state to prioritize school staff for COVID-19 vaccine

The Falmouth School Board voted in favor of calling for the school to be included in Phase 1B of the vaccine rollout.

FALMOUTH, Maine — The Falmouth School Board is looking to have teachers and school staff more highly prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine in Maine.

The School Board voted 7-0 in favor of a resolution at its meeting Monday night that calls on Governor Janet Mills and Maine Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Nirav Shah to include all school staff in phase 1B of Maine's vaccination rollout, according to the meeting's agenda.

The resolution states that the "Falmouth School Board finds a substantial public purpose exists to request that the Governor and the Maine Center for Disease Control designate all PreK-12 school personnel as 'certain critical frontline workers.'"

The resolution goes onto state that as certain critical frontline workers, they are given immediate priority in Phase 1B of the statewide administration of the COVID-19 vaccine." 

Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Maine is slated to take place between February and April, according to the State's website. 

Phase 1B includes Mainers ages 65 to 69, adults with high-risk medical conditions, and additional critical frontline workers. Which frontline workers included in this phase are not known, and the Falmouth School Board is looking to have teachers added. 

The resolution lists a number of reasons behind the push to prioritize school staff for vaccinations including the critical role educators play, overall public health, and other state's plans to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. 

"My hope was that if educators are prioritized and vaccinated, then a.) the close contact/quarantining so we can staff the building with all the kids in the classrooms can happen and b.) it would lead the CDC to look at the social distancing mitigation strategies a whole lot differently and say 3-feet adult and kids. In which case you can staff a normal size classroom," said Superintendent Geoff Bruno.

NEWS CENTER Maine reached out to Governor Mills' office as well as the Maine CDC. A spokesperson for DHHS responded in a statement:

"The U.S. CDC has indicated that schools, with mitigation practices, are safe environments and that their reopening should not be contingent upon vaccinating teachers. That is the case in Maine where the COVID-19 case rate in schools is far lower than that of the general population, demonstrating that schools are safer environments. Maine values the important contributions of school teachers and they will be vaccinated, just as every Maine person will be vaccinated in time, but Maine is receiving a limited supply of the vaccine from the Federal government to distribute to our population which is the oldest by median age in the nation. We have prioritized it for those 70 and older, who are most likely to suffer and die if they contract COVID-19. While the U.S. CDC advisory committee has recommended that teachers be included among critical workers considered to be frontline, Maine is reviewing this list and will make determinations as this phase approaches."