FORT WORTH, Texas - Texas’ largest school districts are calling on Governor Greg Abbott to include teachers and principals in the state’s initial distributions of COVID-19 vaccines.
Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner, in his position as chair of the Texas Urban Council of Superintendents, wrote a letter to the governor Wednesday asking him to prioritize vaccines for teachers.
Gov. Abbott has said healthcare workers, first responders, and vulnerable populations take priority.
Scribner believes educators meet the criteria.
“Our teachers have been on the front lines. In many ways, they are also first responders,” he said.
Fort Worth ISD has had 400 teachers test positive for COVID-19 this school year. Dallas ISD has had more than 800 staff members test positive.
Dallas ISD is one of 10 districts represented in the letter and, like other districts, it has seen a reduction in enrollment and a learning loss during the pandemic.
“We’ve seen that 30% of our students are at a worse off place in reading, and 50% are showing, you know, less learning in mathematics,” said Derek Little, deputy chief academic officer for Dallas ISD.
The district is releasing a parent survey on Thursday that will look to address that drop.
It’s looking into options to catch students up, including the possibilities of extended summer school or a longer school year, either for some students, or for all students.
“We’re doing everything possible that we can this year to accelerate learning as much as we can, but we also know that for some students, it will take several years,” Little added.
Districts understand there’s plenty of catching up to do.
Fort Worth ISD believes schools will see historic academic regression, and district leaders said that as vaccines become available and the economy continues to reopen “that schools are always at the center of that conversation.”
FOX 4 reached out to Gov. Abbott’s office Wednesday evening to see where he stands on prioritizing vaccines for teachers and other groups, but have not yet heard back.
Read the full letter below:
In these difficult times, we are all excited to hear good news. That certainly includes the state’s preliminary guidelines for the distribution of the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine. We appreciate the dedication and diligence of those who are working to implement these vaccinations – and that they are doing so on a greatly accelerated timeline.
However, we’d like to request an addition to the plan.
Our campus-based educators are on the front lines every day. They are teaching in person, interacting with children and other adults. And, while they are utilizing best practices in safety protocols, they are still at a much higher risk of contracting COVID than those of us who can work in a closed office setting or from home.
We, the superintendents of the Texas Urban Council, would urge you to include our teachers and principals in the initial distribution of COVID vaccine. We would also ask that this distribution be prioritized for educators who work in the cities and counties where COVID infection rates are the highest. They are public servants who are doing their very best to keep children safe and educated, and their work has lasting implications for generations of Texans to come.
Thank you for your consideration.