WASHINGTON—Educators are flocking to get the vaccine, and the overwhelming majority are back teaching in person, a new national poll reveals. And they trust the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President Biden, Dr Fauci and their union—not Sean Hannity or Donald Trump—to provide reliable information on the virus.
The independent survey of AFT members, conducted by Hart Research Associates, indicates that the president’s pledge to make the vaccine available to all educators and support staff has been hugely successful, with 81 percent of AFT members either vaccinated or with an appointment to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, 85 percent say their schools are back to operating on at least a part-time basis, showing they are doing their part to ensure their kids can return to the classroom safely.
“Educators are rolling up their sleeves, not only to get vaccinated but to return to in-person schooling with the CDC’s safety guardrails in place,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.
“Since the early days of the pandemic, teachers have turned on a dime, first to implement remote learning and now to return to classrooms to engage their kids face to face. The same is true with education support personnel, from bus drivers to food service workers to paraprofessionals serving kids with special needs. This comprehensive study shows trust is growing, as AFT members have embraced vaccines as vital to getting back in the classroom.”
The poll shows that being able to reopen schools safely is a prime motivation for teachers to get vaccinated. Fully 86 percent said a desire to protect students and staff was an important reason for their decision to do so.
Ninety-three percent of respondents across the union’s K-12 teacher, paraprofessional and higher education divisions trust their doctors to provide information on the COVID-19 vaccine; 88 percent trust the CDC; 79 percent trust Dr. Fauci; 72 percent trust a co-worker; and 71 percent trust the president. Just 17 percent trust Donald Trump, and 12 percent trust Sean Hannity.
The polling indicates a hesitancy among some Republican members to get the vaccine, suggesting a need to bridge the partisan divide on COVID-19 that was cleaved apart by the former president. And there remains work to do to raise trust levels among Black and brown educators and parents who’ve borne the brunt of the virus and who disproportionately live and work in school districts where buildings have been left to crumble amid decades of austerity and disinvestment.
“There is still a race between the vaccine and the variants,” Weingarten continued. “But this polling shows AFT members know the importance of in-school learning. They want to return, the road map to reopening is robust, and if we instill trust and meet fear with facts we can finally end this national nightmare.”
The comprehensive national survey of 1,702 AFT public school teachers, paraprofessional and school-related personnel, higher education members, healthcare members and public employees, conducted March 26 to April 1, 2021, by Hart Research Associates for the AFT. The margin of error for the full sample of 1,702 members is +/- 2.5%, and+/- 3.4% for the K-12 membership.