As countries proceed with rollout plans to inoculate their populations against COVID-19, the urgent need to vaccinate teachers is an increasingly pressing concern. The pandemic crippled education systems across the world.
By April 2020, most of the world’s schools were closed. To expedite their reopening, countries must act to protect teachers’ health, safety and wellbeing. This is a critical precursor to the renormalization of in-person teaching and learning and to the much-needed return of the socialization function of education.
In December 2020, UNESCO and Education International (EI), the global federation of education unions, issued a call to governments and the international community to consider the vital importance of vaccinating teachers and school personnel.
As UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and EI’s General Secretary David Edwards say in their joint video message, “Reopening schools and education institutions safely and keeping them open as long as possible is an imperative. In this context, as we see positive developments regarding vaccination, we believe that teachers and education support personnel must be considered as a priority group.”
As early as March 2020, the Teacher Task Force had launched an international Call for Action on Teachers to highlight critical measures that countries should take regarding teachers in the global pandemic, including the “protection of teachers’ and students’ health, safety and well-being”.
This was reaffirmed during the Extraordinary session of the Global Education Meeting (2020 GEM), convened by UNESCO in October 2020, where heads of state and ministers committed to support all teachers and education personnel as frontline workers and to prioritize their health and safety.