Washington, D.C., March 1, 2021 – First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to educational equity for kids in need, today launched #GiveLearningaShot (available in English and Spanish), a new resource and video series to help educators share trustworthy, expert-based information on the COVID-19 vaccine, available in both English and Spanish. The resource refutes a host of myths that threaten the wellbeing of educators, students and communities. First Book surveyed educators in its network of 500,000 members who specifically work with children in low-income communities to learn the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on in-school, virtual and hybrid teaching models and whether the vaccine will help. #GiveLearningaShot is based on their feedback.
Mental Trauma from COVID-19
Educators emphasized that even when they and their students are physically present, COVID-19 is preventing them from being mentally present, and that the vaccine will not only allow them to safely return to the classroom, but to return to learning. In addition, they face significant obstacles of misinformation and resistance to acceptance of the vaccine in their communities, particularly in communities of color – the majority of children served by the First Book Network are children of color.
Despite growing concern among educators about the impact of continued virtual learning, a lack of trust in the vaccines worries teachers about a safe return to full-time, in-school instruction. Seventy-one percent of respondents said, “people they know are concerned because of the speed of development and worry the vaccine is too risky.” Additionally, 65 percent of respondents reported hearing either some or a great deal of resistance to getting the vaccine in their community. #GiveLearningaShot addresses these concerns head-on providing educators and community members with a of hub of trustworthy information and scientific facts to address vaccine questions and rumors. This First Book Time Saver addresses misinformation surrounding the vaccine and answers common questions with information from trusted sources including a leading virologist at the National Institutes of Health. The resource is complemented by videos featuring the voices of teachers, community members, and parents who explain their reasons for getting the vaccine.
Educators on the Frontline
“Educators have been on the frontlines of this pandemic and have seen day in and day out the urgent barriers to education that our nation’s poorest children face. Beyond educational outcomes, educators are focused on the safety and wellbeing of their students; the social and emotional toll of this virus on students at every grade level is apparent,” said Kyle Zimmer, President, CEO and Co-founder of First Book. “Providing kids the necessary educational and emotional support through in-person instruction is contingent on busting the pervasive myths around the vaccine – which is why First Book is excited to launch #GiveLearningaShot and help inform communities and build a safer classroom.”
Along with guiding First Book in developing an information resource, the Network survey outlined the key educational barriers to learning that have been exacerbated by the year-long pandemic. With 85 percent of respondents currently operating under either a hybrid or virtual teaching model, educators in the First Book Network are seeing firsthand the academic, emotional, and social impact of COVID-19 on students, families, and communities. Regardless of teaching model, educators have identified social isolation and the mental trauma resulting from the fear of infection or transmission to a family member as key barriers preventing students from focusing on schoolwork. In addition, poor Internet access and a lack of digital literacy widens the gap for students unable to attend classes virtually, even when they have the resources to do so. These barriers continue to multiply as the economic impact of lost jobs results in food scarcity and limited learning resources, and parents struggle to provide technical or educational support for virtual learning. All of this results in children who may technically be present but are not ready to learn. This research and campaign were made possible by support from the Larry and Helen Hoag Foundation.
“From the growing disparity of resources and expanding digital divide to the isolation and fear that traumatizes students and families, educators have been tasked with the untenable goal of teaching students who aren’t ready to learn,” says Zimmer. “Kids need the consistent assurance of quality instruction, school supplies, and emotional respite that a school provides – and teachers and students need to be able to return without fear of infection or transmission of COVID to loved ones, so kids can embrace their educational opportunities.”
About First Book
Founded in Washington, D.C., in 1992 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit social enterprise, First Book is a leader in the educational equity field. Over its 29-year history, First Book has distributed more than 200 million books and educational resources, with a retail value of more than $2 billion. First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by providing its Network of more than 500,000 registered teachers, librarians, after school program leaders, and others serving children in need with millions of free and affordable new, high-quality books, educational resources, and basic needs items through the award-winning First Book Marketplace nonprofit eCommerce site. The First Book Network comprises the largest and fastest-growing community of formal and informal educators serving children in need.
First Book also expands the breadth and depth of the education field through a family of social enterprises, including First Book Research & Insights, its proprietary research initiative, and the First Book Accelerator, which brings best-in-class research-based strategies to the classroom via relevant, usable educator resources. First Book Impact Funds target support to areas of need, such as rural communities or increasing diversity in children’s books. Connect with our media team or download our media kit via the First Book Press Room.
Learn More About the Network
Join the Network
Educators can join First Book’s network — the largest and fastest growing network of educators, schools, and programs serving children in need across the United States and Canada — to bring new resources and supplies to the classroom.