In December, we at The Independent urged our elected officials to prioritize educators in the early phases of vaccinations after first responders. Since then, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) ironed out the time table form distribution.

We can now see that teachers are slated for category Phase 1B - Tier 1. In plain English, that means they will fall into the same group as senior citizens ages 65 and over. According to a Jan. 14 press release from Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD), seniors are now moving forward with scheduling vaccinations.

We fully support vaccinating our vulnerable populations. The mortality rate for seniors is tragically high compared to other groups.

We also believe in returning kids to the classroom. Parents, students and teachers alike have cited the challenges of remote education. Teachers are doing the best they can with what they’ve been given, but we all know it’s not the same. Vaccines are not the only factor prohibiting the reopening of schools. It certainly is one of them, though. Delaying the schedule for teachers will only prolong the return.

We understand the challenge for everyone right now is that the demand exceeds the supply, but if we hope to see students back in the classroom at any point in 2021, we need to move teachers up the line as soon as possible. We call upon ACPHD to consider vaccinating teachers — especially those who teach the younger grades — now alongside our senior residents.