Marlborough teachers’ union welcomes COVID vaccine, administrators warn of dose shortages

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By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer

Marlborough – Gov. Baker’s recent decision to move teachers, school staff and childcare workers to the front of the line for COVID-19 vaccines has local advocates happy.

But school district officials are simultaneously cautioning that problems with the state’s broader vaccine rollout might still make shots hard to come by. 

Having the vaccine available for teachers is great news,” Eileen Barry, City Representative for the Marlborough Education Association wrote in a recent email to the Community Advocate. “It is something we have been waiting for and feel is necessary.”

Teachers throughout the Commonwealth have long clamored for a higher rank in Massachusetts’ tiered prioritization of vaccine recipients. Those calls have only intensified since the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced it will soon push districts to bring students back to full-time, in-person learning after roughly a year of remote and hybrid education models. 

“Being vaccinated [offers] peace of mind as we continue to move forward to educate the students of Marlborough this school year,” Barry wrote. “The district leadership is committed to get everyone who wants one [to receive] their vaccination as soon as possible.”

Vaccines, indeed, though, remain hard to come by, even for those who are eligible to book appointments. 

Once hailed as a possible source of up to 750-doses per day, a mini-mega immunization site at the Courtyard Marriott in Marlborough now sits stuck in regulatory purgatory. It’s set to start offering large numbers of appointments. But the state still has not sent actual vaccines.

On March 8, frustrated Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant added in comments to the City Council that the city’s Board of Health had not received any doses from the state in roughly a month.

“It does not seem as though the local option to deliver the vaccine is on the table at the moment,” Marlborough Schools Superintendent Michael Bergeron told the Marlborough School Committee, March 9, acknowledging those issues.

Elementary school students may return to full-time in-person learning 

Through ongoing vaccine confusion, Marlborough is considering the state’s pressure to reopen full-time in-person classrooms.

Students in Pre-K through Grade 2 have already been in school full-time through the entire school year. So, this new focus centers specifically on a plan to have all students through Grade 5, back in the classroom, full-time, starting April 5.  

Bergeron told the School Committee, March 9, that he plans to return, March 23 with such a formalized plan. 

In the meantime, the Marlborough Schools will send a survey to all parents of elementary students giving them the option to choose fully remote learning through the end of the school year in favor of this in-person option.  Parents have until March 24 to let the district know of their decision.  

Bergeron stressed, March 9, that a family will no longer be able to switch a student’s learning modalities after March 24.  He also made it clear that if parents choose to have their students remain as remote learners, their schooling will continue to count as regular school hours.