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Duval School Board Chair Asks DeSantis To Prioritize Giving Teachers COVID Vaccine

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Chair Elizabeth Andersen says teachers deserve to be given the acknowledgement that they are putting themselves in a high-risk environment to provide a critical need to the community.

The Duval County Public Schools board chair is calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to make teachers and other school workers a priority in the next phase of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Thus far, Florida has prioritized seniors, first responders and frontline health care workers in its efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, with DeSantis leading a “seniors first” media blitz where he highlights how many vaccines have been administered to the state’s 65-and older population. 

With the virus spreading throughout the state, including among children, many people are wondering when they’ll be able to get their hands on a vaccine.

One group that is not yet able to get vaccinated, unless they’re 65 or older, is teachers and other school workers, who are slowly being exposed as students previously earning remotely start coming back to school.

In a letter sent this week, school board Chair Elizabeth Andersen called on the governor to include K-12 educators and school-related personnel as a priority in the next phase of vaccine distribution.

“We recognize the many reasons that brick-and-mortar education best serves children and the community at large,” Andersen wrote. “We also find ourselves challenged to ensure the health and well-being of students and staff as the population in our buildings increases while community spread of the virus rises to new highs. Just this month, we have tragically lost two invaluable educators and a student.”

During a news conference in Jacksonville on Monday, DeSantis said he did not plan to expand priority beyond the state’s current “seniors first” focus until another significant influx of vaccines arrives in Florida.

“This is one of those things that nobody has ever done before, so I certainly empathize with the challenge that the governor has on his hands with trying to decide who should go first. Prioritizing the riskiest, most vulnerable individuals is absolutely important,” Andersen said in response to the governor’s statements on Monday.

But, she said, “our teachers deserve to be prioritized and they deserve to be given the respect and acknowledgement that they are putting themselves in a high-risk environment to provide this critical need to our community and to children.”

Brendan Rivers can be reached at, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.

Copyright 2021 WJCT News 89.9.

Brendan Rivers comes to WJCT News with years of experience reporting and hosting news for several stations in the Daytona Beach area.