WINDSOR, ONT. -- The unions representing high school and elementary teachers are relieved to be included in the Phase 2 COVID-19 vaccine rollout, announced late Tuesday by the provincial government.

“We’re happy that they’re in priority 2, no question about that,” says Mario Spagnuolo, president of the Greater Essex Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario.

Spagnuolo says the shots won’t come soon enough.

“When we look at what the rollout is, it looks like they’re not going to be vaccinated until possibly June, and I don’t think that’s early enough,” says Spagnuolo.

Spagnuolo says they’re going to start pushing the health unit to prioritize educators within Phase 2 and bump them up to an April start for vaccines.

Erin Roy, president of District 9 of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation says its “great news” and is something they’ve been advocating for, for a while.

“If the priority is to keep schools open then I think it’s the only avenue available to ensure that happens,” says Roy.

Spagnuolo says there’s “lots of talk” in the GTA and Sarnia of schools pivoting back to virtual, which he says no one wants.

He believes vaccinating educators, soon, could help keep the school year in-person.

“I think vaccinating is there for us to use,” says Spanguolo. “We’re surprised it hasn’t been used it yet for schools. We know its a priority to keep these schools open, so we’re not sure why the government actions aren’t aligning to that.”

Both unions want educators vaccinated sooner rather than later, in part, to position the system for a normal rollout in September.

Roy believes everyone is hoping for a normal system next year, and making sure teachers get both vaccines by September is an integral part of seeing that happen.

“It’s (Covid vaccines) not available to kids,” says Roy. “So we need to vaccinate the people working with them.”