Philadelphia, PA − February 10, 2021 — Senator Sharif Street (D–Philadelphia), issued the following statement in response to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s announcement of a partnership with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia that will make vaccines available for all district, charter, parochial and independent school teachers in Philadelphia

“The Philadelphia Senate Delegation previously met with Mayor Jim Kenney and Health Secretary Chris Farley regarding the process of vaccinations in the city. In this meeting Mayor Kenney committed to ensuring there would be a process for teachers to be vaccinated. I applaud Mayor Kenney for ensuring our educators will be protected before resuming in-person learning.

The collective action of the American Federation of Teachers, parents and advocates across the city on February 8th, refusing to start in-person learning amid initial reports by the School District that teachers were to begin in-person instruction or face discipline, is a testament to the power communities wield when they hold public officials accountable. My mother was a teacher for 25 years and is now retired. I would want her to be vaccinated before being forced into buildings during a pandemic. I was honored to join teachers across the city at Edward T. Steele and Gompers Elementary to demand that our educators are prioritized for vaccination. This is only the first step to ensuring safe and adequate learning environments for our teachers and students post COVID-19.

Teachers rightly fear that the ventilation systems in our city’s aging schools will be insufficient to address the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus, which has only gotten worse. Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed budget would help the ailing infrastructure within our Commonwealth’s school systems, which, due decades of divestment by the General Assembly, has led to asbestos, lead and mold throughout school buildings including in Philadelphia.

Governor Wolf’s budget not only proposes a billion dollars of additional money for the capital improvements that need to be made in Philadelphia schools but an additional $327 million for Philadelphia schools on an operational basis, that means every year. It is crucial that we adequately and equally fund education as we move beyond the pandemic.”