Assistant Superintendent of Early Learning Sara Mead
District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education
Dear Assistant Superintendent Mead,
As you know, this week District early educators and child care staff at last became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination, along with other educators. Since then, early learning programs have shared that they continue to encounter obstacles to registering for vaccine appointments. While we understand that vaccine supply is limited, better communication and accommodations are needed to ensure that early learning program staff have equitable access to it.
Below, I summarize the feedback we have heard to date, highlighting opportunities to improve vaccine communication and distribution to early learning programs. We ask for OSSE’s quick action to respond to programs’ concerns and address these challenges.
The timeline for submitting staff information to OSSE for inclusion in the vaccination pool was very brief - only three days - and some programs didn't have a chance to send the appropriate information before the deadline. Programs are seeking clarity about whether they may still submit their information to OSSE or whether there are other opportunities to register for the vaccine.
Some programs reported earlier this week that they sent staff information to OSSE, but have not yet received a link to register for the vaccine.
- The processes for submitting child care program staff information to OSSE and for registering for the vaccine through OneMedical are difficult to navigate for non-English speakers and people who don't feel comfortable with technology. Resources to support child care staff in registering are necessary to ensure the access to the vaccine is equitable.
- Some have reported that calling the OSSE help desk has not been helpful with some of these concerns. Programs report that OSSE staff direct them to fill out the online vaccine registration form but do not support them with the accessibility of the form.
The timing of the release of vaccination slots for registration (sporadic throughout the day) is effectively exclusionary for many early educators. As child care teachers must focus on teaching and caring for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, they are unable to step away from their responsibilities to refresh the registration page. They need opportunities for registration that are compatible with the nature of their role.
Timing of vaccination appointments is causing staffing trouble, as appointment schedules are not conducive to in-person teaching. Appointments structured with early learning program schedules in mind are needed.
We look forward to OSSE’s support with these concerns. Please feel free to reach out with any questions.
Director of Early Childhood Policy and Programs
DC Action for Children