Districts seek priority for teachers' vaccines
Last updated 1/26/2021 at 9:55pm
Orangefield Independent School District may or may not be the first in the county to do it but it sure won't be the last.
School board members voted 6-0 Monday night to approve a resolution requesting the state designate all public school district personnel as "essential frontline workers" and be given appropriate priority for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes available.
"We mailed it today to Austin," Shaun McAlpin, Orangefield's schools superintendent, said Tuesday afternoon.
"A lot of districts are doing it. I think Bridge City already has sent a resolution and that Vidor and West Orange are planning to."
Currently, school nurses are the only educational personnel identified by the state of Texas for vaccination under Phase 1A or Phase 1B of the Texas COVID-19 Vaccination Plan.
The state hasn't released a list of who might qualify for Phase 1C, but in explaining why it put people 65 and over and those with higher risks in ahead of teachers, the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel said this:
"Because Phase 1B provides vaccine to higher-risk people regardless of their work sector or status, it will provide protection for a number of critical populations [that are] at an increased risk of getting COVID-19" and then lists teachers and school staff, social service workers, critical infrastructure workers "and other frontline workers who are unable to work remotely and so are more likely to be exposed."
Though already at the top of the list of critical populations above, teachers and school personnel definitely fit into that last group, too.
According to reports posted on the Texas Department of State Health Services website, 42 students and 35 adult employees of the Orangefield district have tested positive for COVID-19 since September.
The total of educators and staff members from county schools who have tested positive this school year is about 175.
"Basically, it was a resolution to include educators and other school district employees in the tiered approach to vaccination," Orangefield's McAlpin said of his board's resolution.
"The whole point was to encourage them to consider us at least as an option to sign up. Just consider us so that school employees get signed up."