Why It is Critical for Workers in Out-of-School Settings to Qualify for Vaccine Eligibility Within the Education Sector

The American Camp Association, along with the Afterschool Alliance, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, JCC Association of North America, and the YMCA of the USA, make a strong case to have out-of-school time workers eligible for COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the Education sector.

Why It is Critical for Workers in Out-of-School Settings to Qualify for Vaccine Eligibility Within the Education Sector

Martinsville, IN, December 22, 2020 –(PR.com)– Last Thursday, December 10, the American Camp Association (ACA), along with the Afterschool Alliance, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, JCC Association of North America, and the YMCA of the USA, made a strong case to have out-of-school time workers supporting the education of our children and adult learners in a myriad of settings classified as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” and made eligible for vaccinations coincident with other workers in the Education sector as defined the Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

“The ongoing availability of healthy staff and continuous operation of these Out-of-School Time (OST) programs are critical to the economic recovery of our country,” according to ACA President/CEO Tom Rosenberg. “Workers operating in OST settings such as organized camps, afterschool programs, childcare, community-based centers, and recreation programs provide essential services to early learners and students and to their working parents and caregivers. For these reasons, workers in OST settings should be eligible to receive vaccinations coincident with other workers in the Education sector.”

On Sunday, December 20, members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) finalized their recommendations for vaccine distribution in phases 1b and 1c. Essential workers supporting the Education sector were included in phase 1b. While OST workers were not called out specifically, “daycare” workers were mentioned. Our lead organizations are currently working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to clarify the meaning of that term. In addition, they are planning an outreach initiative to state governors and departments of health to relate to them as to how OST workers fully fall within the definition of the Education sector as determined by CISA. Ultimately, state governors and their designees will determine the prioritization of the vaccine distribution in their state.

In the letter to the ACIP, which is charged with advising the director of the CDC on the allocation and distribution of immunizing agents, ACA, in conjunction with 47 other national and regional youth-serving organizations, represented that this classification is in strong accord with the criteria outlined in the guidance provided by CISA. On Saturday, December 12, 2020, Tom Rosenberg delivered comments to the CDC ACIP reflecting the position of ACA and the other 47 organizations aligned for ensuring vaccines for OST staff along with the Education sector (his comments begin at 3:31:22).

CISA provides guidance on the qualification of essential workers that require specialized risk management strategies for safe workplaces and a structure for allocation of resources in the document titled, Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19 Response (Vers. 4.0, August 18, 2020). The Education sector heading includes the following areas:

– Workers who support the education of pre-school, K-12…students, including professors, teachers, teacher aides, special education and special needs teachers, ESOL teachers, paraeducators, apprenticeship supervisors, and specialists
– Workers who provide services necessary to support educators and students
– Workers who support the transportation and operational needs of schools
– Workers who support the administration of school systems
– Educators and operational staff facilitating and supporting distance learning

These same categories apply to the majority of the job descriptions for staff members in childcare programs, organized camps, afterschool programs, and community center recreation areas, as many facilities are partnering with schools to provide in-person instruction and distance learning. This workforce has enabled healthcare and frontline workers to attend to their essential duties and will continue to do so through the summer season.

“The safety and health of the more than 68,000 Club staff are paramount to continue our consistent and ongoing support for millions of kids, teens, and the recovery of communities around the country,” said Jim Clark, president & CEO Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “I urge our elected leaders to include youth providers like Boys & Girls Club staff as essential frontline workers in the early phases of the country’s vaccine roll out. Including Club staff so they can continue to serve youth will help accelerate efforts of communities to rebuild and recover from the economic and social impacts of this pandemic.”

Childcare staff in OST educational and recreational settings such as camps and community centers are critical for continued support to serve the nation’s healthcare, first responders, frontline, and essential workers, as well as in assisting in the continued economic recovery of our country. Parents cannot return to work without a functioning OST sector. In addition, frontline childcare staff are disproportionately women and women of color. Given that Latino, American Indian, and Black communities are more than 3.5 times more likely to suffer severe cases of COVID-19 and death, frontline childcare workers should be vaccinated early on. Inclusion of these childcare workers within the vaccination allocation and distribution along with those in the Education sector is paramount for safeguarding public health and economic recovery.

“YMCA childcare staff serve on the front lines, alongside essential personnel, providing safe and enriching care for their children and others,” said Paul McEntire, executive vice president/chief operations officer of YMCA of the USA. “These staff members are critical to supporting the social, emotional, physical, and academic development of young people and helping to restart the economy by enabling parents to work. Because childcare programs play such a pivotal role, childcare staff must have the same access to vaccines as school educators.”

For a sample of the various supports being offered by just the lead organizers of this initiative, follow this Lead Organization Overview link.

DHS, CISA. Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19 Response (Vers. 4.0, August 18, 2020). cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce

About American Camp Association
The American Camp Association® (ACA) is a national organization with more than 12,000 individual members and 3,100 member camps. ACA is committed to collaborating with those who believe in quality camp and outdoor experiences for children, youth, and adults. ACA provides advocacy, evidence-based education, and professional development, and is the only independent national accrediting body for the organized camp experience. ACA accredits more than 2,400 diverse US camps. ACA Accreditation provides public evidence of a camp’s voluntary commitment to the health, safety, risk management, and overall well-being of campers and staff. For more information, visit ACAcamps.org or call 800-428-2267.

About the Afterschool Alliance
The Afterschool Alliance is a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children and youth have access to quality afterschool programs. More information is available at afterschoolalliance.org.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For 160 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,700 Clubs serve over 4.6 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Club programs promote academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 54 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of America on Facebook and Twitter.

About JCC Association of North America
JCC Association of North America leads and connects the JCC Movement, advancing and enriching North American Jewish life. With 1.5 million people walking through the doors of more than 170 Jewish Community Centers and Jewish Community Camps (JCCs) each week, the JCC Movement is the largest platform for Jewish engagement on the continent. JCC Association, the convening organization of this dynamic network, partners with JCCs to bring together the collective power and knowledge of the entire JCC Movement, including 12,000 full-time and 41,000 part-time and seasonal professionals. By supporting them, together we enhance and strengthen Jewish life throughout North America. Learn more at JCCA.org or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

About the Y
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. ymca.net