While some studies show that compliance with masking and social distancing has mostly controlled in-school transmission of COVID, these numbers don’t reflect the stress teachers experience through their constant exposure, especially the many teachers with high-risk conditions. While Maine numbers seem to be declining, we cannot count on that trend persisting with the new, more contagious variants on the rise.

Up to this point, Maine has been spared from much of the worst effects of COVID. In parts of the country where community spread has been rampant, lost teacher work-days due to family illness and quarantine rules have created staffing shortages that forced school closures.

Educators, psychologists, parents, and employers all would prefer returning to a normal school schedule in Maine if it can be done safely. While current disease rates suggest that schools can open up, future numbers could make the move towards normalization backfire by causing more teacher absences.

Vaccinating the approximately 25,000 teachers in Maine would play a large role in keeping them on the job serving our children as the academic year progresses. It also would be a great way to thank them for their incredible service up to this point.

Sydney R. Sewall, M.D., MPH

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