Petition demanding vaccines for Chesterfield teachers gains traction

Coronavirus

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A petition demanding vaccinations for Chesterfield teachers returning to county classrooms has nearly 4,000 signatures. It’s the latest move inside the battle between some county parents and the school board.

The school district is one of the five largest in the whole state. Teachers were supposed to get vaccinated starting this week. That didn’t happen because of a shortage, according to district leaders.

The situation is angering parents and some teachers even more.

“Please put health over everything else,” said Chesterfield Education Association president Sonia Smith.

On Friday morning, a group of parents and other advocates planned to present the petition to school board chair Ryan Harter. He didn’t attend.

“Sick students can’t learn, sick teachers cant teach,” said a former teacher.

On the flip side, folks in favor of going back in-person argue at home learning is stunting educational growth.

“It’s very very difficult for parents with small children, parents with special needs children, I understand that,” said Kate Flinn. “I have a child with autism myself, so I understand.”

Flinn asks them for patience.

“We’re so close to having these vaccines available,” she said.

The petition argues that teachers should have the chance to get fully vaccinated before going back into classrooms. Teachers told 8News they don’t have the option to stay virtual unless they have a pre-existing medial condition. Earlier this month, the school board voted to send another set of students back on February 1. That group includes secondary and elementary school students.

“They need to spend a week, the entire day, in those buildings with those children. If it is safe for somebody else, then put yourself right on in there and find out for sure,” said the former teacher, referencing the school board members who voted for more in-person instruction.

At the presentation Friday, organizers printed 4,000 pieces of paper, each one representing a person who signed the petition. They were color coded by each individual district in Chesterfield. About a week ago, the petition had just roughly 2,000 signatures.

No school board members replied to 8News’ request for comment on this Friday.

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