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Group pushes for teachers to get coronavirus vaccine

HOUSTON – A national group of education leaders wants school workers to be a higher priority for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Chiefs for Change is calling on federal and state officials to release all doses of the vaccine right away and make all teachers and school staff eligible for vaccination now.

“We see this as critical, not just to schools, but to communities,” said Chiefs for Change CEO Mike Magee.

The move could help students get back to school faster, he said.

“We know that not only do they learn better in their classrooms, millions of students are also safer in their classrooms,” Magee said.

In Texas, Phase 1B of the vaccine priorities includes people 65 years and older, as well as people 16 and up with certain chronic medical conditions. The teachers who meet those guidelines are eligible for the vaccine but others are not.

“We believe teachers should be at the top of the tier,” said Glenda Guzman Macal, president of the Fort Bend American Federation of Teachers.

While some teachers were granted permission to work from home, she said others are reporting to campus.

“Our teachers have a very close relationship with students, in that they are in the classroom, in close proximity with students, six to eight hours a day,” Macal said.

School nurses in Texas are currently eligible for the shot and Magee believes they could play a big role in giving out the vaccine if the program is expanded.