By Jill Ament & Shelly Brisbin at the Texas Standard, December 7, 2020
COVID-19 vaccines will become available to Texans in a matter of days. Priorities have been assigned to medical workers, nursing home patients and emergency transportation workers, paramedics and home health care assistants. But school leaders say teachers should also have a place near the beginning of the line because their frequent contact with students puts them at high risk for the virus.
Kent Paredes Scribner is superintendent of the Fort Worth Independent School District and chair of the Texas Urban Council of Superintendents. He recently wrote a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, advocating that educators be given priority access to COVID-19 vaccines. Scribner told Texas Standard he agrees that health care workers should receive vaccines first, but teachers should also be vaccinated soon because reopening public schools figures so prominently in plans to reopen the economy.
“[Teachers] are on the front line every day, not only educating students but keeping them safe,” Scribner said.
He hasn’t received a response yet from the governor’s office.
Scribner suggests a tiered approach to forming priority lists for vaccinations. Teachers with preexisting conditions, for example, would receive a vaccine before those who don’t have potential health risks. Beyond individual health situations, Scribner would prioritize teachers and other employees who have direct contact with students, over office workers and other school employees.