BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland Schools Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon is requesting that teachers, school staff and child care professionals be added to the priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Salmon said they are essential employees and “the safety and education of our children demand immediate attention” in a letter to Dr. Jinlene Chan, Maryland Department of Health Acting Deputy Secretary of Public Health Services.

“It is essential that we return to full or hybrid instructional models for the overall wellbeing and success of our prekindergarten through grade 12 students. Prolonged school closures have resulted in our children experiencing diminished academic achievement and social-emotional distress,” she wrote.

“We care about all of our education and child care professionals, many of whom have continued to work on the frontline throughout the pandemic, and we are requesting that they be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine in the earliest stages of distribution to essential employees,” Salmon continued.

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Clarence C. Crawford, President of the Maryland State Board of Education, echoed Salmon’s request.

“Continued school closings impact all of our children, especially those in underserved communities and vulnerable to abuse,” said Crawford. “Prioritizing distribution of this vaccine to our teachers and school staff will help expedite the return of full in-person instruction for our students.”

Their request includes child care workers who are providing critical support and care services for working parents.

“Child care professionals have played a crucial role in the State’s frontline pandemic response and recovery efforts,” said Dr. Salmon. “The safety of these programs must be maintained to protect child care staff and the families they serve.”

Salmon praised the state’s Department of Health for their “tireless efforts in securing the public health and safety of our schools and child care facilities.”

“Our partnership is especially invaluable now,” Salmon continued, “as we redefine education and child care environments as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

Currently, priority workers include health care workers and first responders.

The first Marylanders got their vaccines Monday.

Gov. Larry Hogan will address Marylanders at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

CBS Baltimore Staff