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Press Release

NEA survey: Nation’s educators are vaccinated and in school as last school districts open 

While members generally feel safe, Delta variant puts greater emphasis on safety protocols and measures
Published: September 7, 2021

WASHINGTON—The National Education Association, the nation’s largest union representing nearly 3 million educators, unveiled its latest survey of members’ vaccination rates and opinions on key issues facing public education during the pandemic. Conducted by GBAO Strategies, the survey found vaccination rates among members are much higher than among the general public. It also found that nearly all of surveyed members are working in schools in-person full-time this fall. As the Delta variant surges, surveyed members place greater importance on requiring PPE, improving building ventilation, and enforcing physical distancing for in-person instruction. 

Below are the key findings:

  • Vaccination rates among NEA members are much higher than among the general public. Nearly 90 percent of members have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.  
  • Nearly all members and students are going to school in-person full-time this fall. Among members who had started their school year, 97 percent say their students are learning in-person full-time.  
  • A majority of members support vaccine and mask requirements in schools. Two thirds (65 percent) of members support their school district requiring/mandating school staff to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. 
  • Members generally feel safe returning to school in-person this year, but do not feel “very safe.”  
    • Two-thirds of members say they feel safe (67 percent) working in-person this year, but few feel very safe (27 percent). 
  • Amid the Delta variant surge, members place greater importance on requiring PPE and enforcing physical distancing for in-person instruction than they did three months ago.  
  • Improving school ventilation is a top priority for educators but few report that their buildings’ ventilation systems have been upgraded. 
  • The vast majority of members (80 percent) feel the pandemic has resulted in more educators leaving the profession; a growing number of members (37 percent, up from 28 percent in July 2020) say they personally are more likely to retire or leave the profession earlier than they had planned. 

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Becky Pringle.  

“In the midst of a global pandemic, this past year has illustrated what it means to reach, teach, and inspire every student. Educators have gone to extraordinary lengths to serve students and their communities—no matter who they are, where they live, or what they look like—while also tending to their own families.  

“Educators remain committed to working together to ensure our local schools are the safest places in the community for every student, educator and family. As students and educators return to schools for the new school year, we are focused on keeping students safe, learning and engaged. And as the latest NEA survey shows, we continue to emphasize that the path for safe in-person teaching and learning relies upon a layered approach, starting with vaccines for all who are eligible, regular testing, and masks. There’s much more to keeping everyone in the community safe, but those three are absolutely fundamental.  

“Educators know there is no substitute for in-person teaching and learning. The good news is that right now, millions of students have already returned to their classrooms or are preparing to return for the new school year, many of them for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Students and parents are picking up school supplies. Educators are preparing their lesson plans, decorating their classrooms, and doing everything they can to ensure students are safe as they return. Now is also a good time to remind parents to pick up masks and to make plans to get students vaccinated as part of their back-to-school preparations.  

“The hard work is paying off but we are not in the clear yet, not with the sharp rise of the Delta variant and with some politicians trying to outlaw the very things we know will keep our students and schools safe. Now more than ever, we need to all work together to overcome the shared challenges and bring forth solutions for our students to thrive. We need universal mask policies in schools, vaccines for all those who are eligible, and robust testing of anyone who isn’t vaccinated. That’s the only path forward.”   


On behalf of the National Education Association, GBAO Strategies conducted the nationally representative online survey of 2,807 non-retired NEA members August 14-23, 2021. The sample is subject to a +/- 1.9 percentage point margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level.   


Click here to download a summary of the vaccine survey.  


Follow on Twitter at @NEAmedia and @BeckyPringle 


The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing nearly 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, educational support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at 


National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.