By Paul Burton

BOSTON (CBS) – When it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations, Massachusetts Teachers Association spokesperson Merrie Najimy says teachers will have a take a seat in the back of class as the timeline for their shots have been pushed down on the priority list.

“This is frustrating. The governor wants to move us faster into schools, but he’s pushing us further behind the line to get vaccinated,” Najimy said.

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Starting on Feb. 1, Massachusetts will move into Phase 2 of its coronavirus vaccine distribution plan. This week, Gov. Charlie Baker announced people who are 65 and older were moved up on the priority list behind people 75 and older. Early education and K-12 workers will follow after that.

“Teachers want to feel that the state is taking care of them because ultimately if we are going to keep students safe, we have to keep educators safe,” Najimy said.

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“The decision he just made has delayed a safe return by weeks if not by months,” Najimy added.

This as more hybrid schools move to fully remote learning because of the rise in coronavirus cases in students, including Needham High School. “Unfortunately, we over the last ten days had a total of 29 positive student cases at the high school. I thought it was appropriate to close the high school last Friday and through this week,” Needham Public Schools Superintendent, Dan Gutekanst said.

Dr. Rick Malley of Boston Children’s Hospital says teachers and students being vaccinated are a priority; however, it needs to be done safely. “Schools have not been a major sight for super spreading events. One of the solutions that will really help is that as the number of the vaccinated people in Massachusetts increases, we should hope the amount of virus in the community drop and that will make those who work in the school and students safer,” Dr. Malley said.

Najimy said a definitive vaccination date for teachers remains unclear as well. “We have to take care of students and educators and we can still do that while still prioritizing the highest needs people in society,” Najimy said.

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Visit Mass.Gov/CovidVaccine to find out when you’re eligible for a vaccine and to book an appointment.

Paul Burton