Gov. Chris Sununu called out teacher unions last week for politicizing the COVID-19 pandemic and they didn’t like it one little bit. He happens to be correct that the great majority of New Hampshire’s public schools can be and ought to be open for in-classroom learning. Parents and school boards, please take note.
In the public schools that are open (one-quarter to perhaps one-third of them, Sununu said), transmission of the virus has been low. There have been a few small clusters of cases within a school but no school-wide outbreaks. And children are the least vulnerable to the illness and its more serious effects.
The teacher unions don’t like to hear that. They particularly don’t like to be told that they are not going to be allowed to cut the vaccination line ahead of the state’s more vulnerable populations, including those age 65 and older.
Sununu noted that the average age for New Hampshire teachers is 46. Ninety percent of them are under 65. The unions don’t like to hear such statistics. They would rather the public’s attention be drawn to the few of their number who are 65 or older, to which Sununu notes that these few are indeed eligible for the vaccine now.
One of the union heads claimed the economy would improve by vaccinating the teachers now. The parents, he said, would then be able to get back to work themselves. But teachers don’t need to be vaccinated to make that happen.
Not having a worthy case to make, the unions and their political allies have seized on the fact that ski patrol members were classified as first responders and thus eligible to get the vaccine. It is a relatively tiny group, some of which are EMTs and thus in that first phase already. But the optics aren’t good for the governor, any more than it is good for young and healthy teachers to be seen as competing with granny and grandpa for a place in the vaccine line.