SAN ANTONIO — Luke Pamphlett teaches history at Burbank High School for San Antonio ISD. He shared with KENS 5 that he comes from a family of educators and has been passionate about teaching.
During the pandemic, he’s had to adjust to a new way of learning like his students. Pamphlett says he teaches in-person, but a majority of his students are doing online school.
On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the looming end of coronavirus restrictions. Effective March 10, all businesses can fully reopen and the statewide mask mandate will end.
That announcement was followed up by the Texas Department of State Health Services saying it was expanding vaccine eligibility for educators and child care workers. For Pamphlett, that update came as a relief.
“It felt like one of the few and rare successes we've had this year, in terms of advocating for our lives to be taken seriously,” Pamphlett said.
According to DSHS officials, staff received a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services directing them to expand vaccine access. This change comes one day after President Joe Biden urged states to prioritize educators for doses.
People who qualify for the vaccine are school employees and child care operation workers. The release states the federal directive defined eligible people as “those who work in pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools, as well as Head Start and Early Head Start programs (including teachers, staff, and bus drivers) and those who work as or for licensed child care providers, including center-based and family care providers.”
Pamphlett shared that he knows educators, bus drivers and cafeteria staff who have felt unsupported during the pandemic.
“Who don’t feel like they’ve been treated as the people who help America function, who help us raise our kids, who sit at the heart of the foundation of a democratic society by running a public education system. I think us getting vaccines in our arm soon will take some of that sting away from that,” he said.
Before the federal policy change, Bexar County had already provided vaccines for a small group of local teachers. University Health System organized teacher vaccinations with the help of school districts.
During Wednesday night's coronavirus response briefing, Bexar County judge Nelson Wolff said 14,000 teachers have already received their doses. He said that on March 22nd, University Health will be solely concentrating on school staff.
Amphlett says once he receives his dose, he will remain vigilant and urges educators to follow suit.
“Make sure we're still wearing masks and enforcing social distancing,” he said. “As public servants, we're not just here to advocate for our own safety, but we have to advocate for the safety of the families we serve too.”