Schools remain partially closed because of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan. Blame state leadership, not the public schools.

Teachers and school staff are in Phase 1B, Tier 3, of the official state vaccination plan. They should be at the front of the vaccination line along with health care and other critical-need workers. Teachers should have received their second shot weeks ago. Instead, teachers might get vaccinated by late April after people like my wife and me.

I am retired and well past the 65 years of age that puts me in the “high risk” of COVID-19 category. My wife is too. But we are healthy, live independently and can easily avoid other people because we choose to do that along with wearing masks when in public. Missouri has thousands upon thousands of people like us, healthy senior citizens who can protect themselves.

We already have received the first shot. Because of the state plan, teachers aren’t even in line yet. Teachers want to be in the classroom full time. They are not because local school officials know from decades of experience that schools are major spreaders of contagious illnesses. (Editor’s note: Scientists have shown through research that schools are actually at low risk of spreading COVID-19.)

All of the teachers in Missouri could be vaccinated in a few days. Columbia’s teachers could have received their second vaccinations weeks ago. Yet, they still aren’t even in line. That situation is a result of a flawed plan from Jefferson City.

Get angry over closed schools if you wish, but direct your anger in the right direction.

Kent Ford is a Columbia resident.

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