Eighty-three percent of teachers and other staff members who responded to a recent Anchorage School District survey said they were fully vaccinated.
The survey was sent March 19 to all ASD staff, which includes 5,948 regular district employees and 2,875 substitute teachers and temporary employees. Out of 2,819 responses, 89.3% said they had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; 82.9% said they have received both doses. The district is not tracking its students who are eligible to receive the vaccine.
Superintendent Deena Bishop said in a March 1 message that the district hoped to vaccinate over 75% of employees by the end of the month.
“This final phase of getting ALL of our students back into schools has been a long time coming and has involved many steps along the way,” Bishop said in her message.
The state widened vaccine eligibility to teachers and child care staff of all ages in mid-February.
Preschoolers, first graders and second graders went back to classrooms this January. Third through sixth graders returned to in-person instruction in early February. Middle and high schoolers returned March 15.
Anchorage Education Association President Corey Aist expressed frustrations and concerns in early January as the district began bringing students back without a vaccination strategy for teachers.
While it’s great that so many teachers are getting vaccinated, Aist said, he is still worried about families and students who haven’t been.
“There is no doubt that the effort that ASD, (the Anchorage Education Association) and other players made in getting the state to move the process along faster was really helpful and has made things better,” Aist said. “At the same time, we are still concerned and we are still going to share that concern — that students are not vaccinated, and most of their families are not vaccinated. It is a bittersweet success.”
As of Wednesday, over 38% of Alaskans eligible for a shot had received at least their first dose, according to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard. About 27% of Alaskans 16 and older were reported to be fully vaccinated.
“We have been encouraging all of our educators to get vaccinated, and also understand personal choice,” Aist said. “If they are not, that’s fine — and hope that they are doing everything they can to mitigate and protect themselves.”