MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico mounted a final push Tuesday to get all of the country’s 3 million school teachers vaccinated so it can reopen schools, perhaps by the second half of June.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that getting kids back into classrooms was an urgent necessity, as much for their social development as anything else.
“This a priority for boys and girls, for all students,” López Obrador said. “School is like a second home, and we need all students at all levels to return to in-person classes. This is indispensable … so that boys and girls can see their classmates.”
Vaccination teams fanned out in Mexico City and four other states Tuesday to give teachers coronavirus shots.
Yésica Briones, an English teacher at a private school, said the vaccinations were a good idea both for students and for the families of teachers who could bring home anything they catch at school.
“I think it even applies a lot to our own families,” Briones said. “It is good that they are taking measures for our profession.”
Officials estimate that about 2.1 million teachers at private and public schools have already been vaccinated, and hope to inject almost 520,000 this week.
That would only leave a couple of states for the last week in May. While López Obrador said the decision to restart classes would be left in individual states and even individual schools, he expressed hope that most schools would reopen for awhile in June for at least a few weeks before summer vacation.
Schools in four of the least-affected states have gone back to in-person classes, but on a very limited scale. The other 28 states have been giving online classes since early last year. That also poses a problem in Mexico, where access to the internet and computers is far from universal.
Mexico started its vaccination drive with frontline health care personnel and people over 60. The country is also starting to vaccinate pregnant women and those between 50 and 59.
Mexico has received almost 30 million doses so far and administered almost 25 million shots.
The country has recorded about 220,500 test-confirmed COVID-19 deaths, but the country does so little testing that the government’s own estimates of probable deaths now amounts to around 347,000.