(Omaha, NE) -- Omaha's teacher's union says all staff and teachers need to be given the COVID-19 vaccine before Omaha Public Schools return to in-person learning.
In a release, leaders of the Omaha Education Association expressed their disappointment in OPS's decision to return to in-person learning five days a week starting in February. "We are deeply disappointed in the way OPS has moved forward with plans to attempt a return to normalcy in our school buildings," said OEA President Robert Miller. OEA leadership said OPS did not try to coordinate a plan for a return to in-person learning with the union.
OEA says they are in favor of a return to in-person learning, but only "after the staff receives the vaccine."
Miller goes on to say, "In our view, it is absolutely imperative that OPS educators and staff are vaccinated before we return to greeting, teaching and caring for all of our students each and every day. Without vaccinated educators and staff, every school day at every OPS school building becomes a potential super-spreader event."
OEA says many staff are older, or have underlying health conditions, that put them at high risk. Miller says he knows educators are eager to get back to some sense or normalcy, but he says, "They are not ready to needlessly risk their lives, the lives of loved ones or the lives of our students and their families to do so."
Miller says OPS going ahead with such a major change in operations without input from the union, teachers or school staff is a disappointment. He says working together is how OPS students and staff will make a safe return to in-person learning. Our opinion is that the best route for OPS to follow is one of coordination and collaboration: coordination with the governor and Health and Human Services in getting Omaha educators and staff vaccinated, and collaboration with OPS educators and staff on a managed and careful return to some kind of normalcy. We stand ready to work with OPS leadership toward a return to normal activities, but steps to get there must be taken in the right order."