Right now in Texas, only educators over the age of 65 are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
But Ovidia Molina, president of the Texas State Teachers Association, says everyone working in the school system right now should have access, especially as the state pushes for in-person leaning.
“It’s not just the teacher that creates the atmosphere and the successes for our students; it’s everybody that works in our schools. It’s the person walking down the hall that says ‘hello’ to them; the cafeteria worker that makes their lunches,” Molina told Texas Standard. “We all have a great impact on our students, and none of us would be able to do the job without the other.”
She says the vaccine would provide peace of mind for teachers who worry about being exposed to the virus at work, getting sick and bringing it home to their families.
“I’m not safe, I’m not safe, I’m not safe is the feeling that we have constantly,” she said.
Contributing to that feeling of a lack of safety is the state’s reporting system. Molina says it’s up to the districts to report back to the state how my employees and students have tested positive for COVID-19, and every district goes about reporting a little differently. She says she worries the numbers aren’t accurate.
“We may not be seeing the numbers that are actual numbers for how many educators and students are getting COVID at school because … we don’t have clear guidelines as to what that means,” she said. “And so as educators, we don’t even know if what the data is telling us is true.”
Molina says expanding vaccine access to all educators is important to protect their health and that of their students.