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Oklahoma ScissorTales: Moving teachers up the vaccine list is sensible

Gov. Kevin Stitt announced that Oklahoma school teachers have been moved to a higher priority on the lists to receive the coronavirus vaccine. [AP Photo]
Gov. Kevin Stitt announced that Oklahoma school teachers have been moved to a higher priority on the lists to receive the coronavirus vaccine. [AP Photo]

The state’s initial plan for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine had teachers in the third phase, with a rollout date uncertain. Gov. Kevin Stitt’s decision to move teachers up to Phase 2 makes sense.

The pandemic is first and foremost a public health emergency, with older residents at most risk. Thus, residents and staff of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and doctors and nurses, are rightly the first to receive the vaccine.

The pandemic-induced closure of many schools, meantime, has had a profound effect on students’ progress in the classroom and on their emotional and physical well-being. For many children, remote learning is a poor substitute for in-person learning.

Stitt announced Thursday that K-12 teachers and staff who interact with students will be part of the Phase 2 rollout, which could begin early in the new year.

A survey this fall of roughly 300 school districts found that few students and staff had contracted COVID-19 in their schools. However, many teachers are leery — about 60% of the Oklahoma City district’s teachers who responded to a separate survey said they were uncomfortable about returning.

“Many kids have had the option to be in-person school in the state of Oklahoma, and I believe all children deserve that same opportunity,” Stitt said. “This needs to happen as soon as possible.”

He’s right. Moving teachers up on the vaccine priority list will help to accomplish this.

City's appeal to Supreme Court disappointing

The Oklahoma City Council voted 5-4 recently to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review a 2015 panhandling ordinance that a federal appeals court said violated the First Amendment. The rule made several traffic medians off-limits to pedestrians. The city argued safety was its foremost concern in passing the ordinance. But a three-judge panel rejected that claim in August and said the record showed “troubling evidence of animus against panhandlers.” The council took public comment in September, all of it opposed to taking the fight to the Supreme Court. It’s a long shot that the high court will even hear the case — it accepts fewer than 2% of thousands of cases presented each year. Meantime, this pursuit will add to the city’s legal tab, which totals more than $230,000. Any additional funds to be expended could be better used elsewhere.

After security breach, close eye is warranted

It may be some time before we know just the full extent of damage inflicted by data breaches of several U.S. government agencies. The hacking operation, perhaps tied to Russia’s government, involved a third-party software vendor called SolarWinds, which does business with organizations around the world. One of SolarWinds’ customers is Oklahoma’s government. An official with the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, which runs the IT division that responds to computer threats, said this week there was no sign Oklahoma assets were affected. Let’s hope not. The former White House chief information officer for President George W. Bush said news of the breach left her “sick to my stomach.” Her level of concern, she told CNN, was at 9 on a scale of 1 to 10, “and it’s not because of what I know, it’s because of what we still don’t know.” That's unsettling.

Barr deserves credit for work as AG

Throughout William Barr’s time as U.S. attorney general, progressives painted him as little more than a partisan hack and President Trump’s lap dog. In reporting on Barr’s resignation this week, The Associated Press said he “proved to be a largely reliable Trump ally and defender of presidential power.” Yet Barr’s views on the powers of the executive branch were the same when he was AG under President George W. Bush. Barr also showed that he believes procedure and evidence matter. He said he hadn’t seen fraud on a scale that could have changed the 2020 election outcome — the opposite of what Trump’s legal team claimed — and he kept quiet about investigations into Hunter Biden despite Trump and some Republicans pushing him to say something ahead of the election. Barr was in a tough spot, dealing with a mercurial boss in hyperpartisan Washington, and deserves some credit as he exits next week.

The Oklahoman Editorial Board

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Kelly Dyer Fry, Publisher, Editor and Vice President of News; Owen Canfield, Opinion Editor; and Ray Carter, Chief Editorial Writer.. To submit a letter to the editor, go to this page or email... Read more ›