SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff penned a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, asking him to include teachers and faculty in the two frontline tiers of priority recipients for the coronavirus vaccine.
In the letter, the local leaders write:
"School nurses are rightfully considered a priority in the Texas vaccination process, but we believe that teachers and faculty should be included in your two frontline tiers. While school nurses are more likely to interact with students who may be sick, studies have shown that children, teens and young adults are less likely to present with COVID-19 symptoms-- making teachers and faculty just as susceptible to the asymptomatic spread of this pandemic."
As of right now, Abbott has stated that the first tier of Texans who will receive the vaccine upon approval will be hospital-based workers, while the second tier will include health care workers and school nurses.
"We believe it is critically important for all of our frontline workers in school settings to be vaccinated," the mayor said. "Teachers are in classrooms all day long with dozens of students. So for us to make sure this is a healthy environment – that we limit the spread of this virus, particularly at this moment right now – we think it is important for teachers and other frontline school workers to be part of the first tiers of the vaccine distribution."
Alejandra Lopez, president of the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel, said her fellow educators support the effort.
"We have all been pulling our weight," she said. "And I think it is only appropriate that we would be prioritized when it comes to a vaccine effort. We shouldn't be taking any unnecessary risks, during this pandemic, especially with a vaccine in sight. Imagine having to get up and go to your classroom where you are seeing positive cases popping up all over the place."
If the vaccine is approved, the mayor says San Antonio should be getting more than 24,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine next week. He hopes the state will see the critical need for those in the classroom to get the shot.
"Our parents, our students, our staff and the teachers themselves deserve and need to be safe for us to have a healthy functioning community and a health functioning economy, " Nirenberg said.
In addition to this request, he and Wolff asked for the governor's support for widespread, regular COVID-19 testing in local schools.
The letter in its entirety can be viewed here:
This comes days after Metro Health issued guidance advising against in-person learning in Bexar County. Citing the county's high positivity rate, which spiked to 15.2% in the last week, as well as the rise in newly-reported cases, Metro Health raised the Risk Level for schools into the "red" zone.
Local school districts responded, saying that they would stay the course and they believed in-person education was currently safe.