One of the last items of business in 2020 for members of the Athens ISD school board was to send a clear request to Gov. Greg Abbott. The seven trustees unanimously adopted a resolution in December requesting the governor include public school district personnel in the state’s definition of frontline workers.
“Most everyone agrees schools need to be open, and kids need to be in class,” School Board President Eugene Buford said. “If that’s the case, then the employees of the school district should be acknowledged as essential frontline workers.”
The Texas Education Agency has required that public educators teach in person, as well as online to students unable to attend class. At the same time, the number of individuals impacted by COVID-19 throughout the state continues to rise.
“I’m thoroughly convinced our school district is doing everything we can to protect our people, and it’s reflected in the number of cases we do not have,” Buford said. “But that doesn’t change the need for them to be on the frontline of receiving the vaccine.”
The proclamation, which was sent just before Christmas to Abbott, reads in part, “the board, having a substantial public interest in protecting the health and safety of its students, staff and community desires to ensure that the school district and community be prepared to the fullest extent possible” and is therefore resolved that public school district personnel be prioritized for the vaccine as essential frontline workers.
“We’re responsible for the safety, welfare and education of our most precious resource,” Superintendent Dr. Janie Sims said. “It only makes sense that school personnel should have access to the vaccine in order to continue safely providing such a vital service.”