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COVID-19

All Texas Teachers Are Now Eligible To Receive A COVID-19 Vaccine

Kindergarten teacher Ginger Bolen teaches a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning at Boone Elementary School in South Austin.
Michael Minasi
/
KUT
Kindergarten teacher Ginger Bolen teaches a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning at Boone Elementary School in South Austin.

Lee esta historia en español.

Teachers and child care workers are now included in groups currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced Wednesday.

The announcement follows a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services calling on states to prioritize these workers. HHS said this includes “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.”

The letter said educators are essential workers during the pandemic.

"However," it said, "it has come to our attention that some states have not considered teachers, school staff, and child care workers to be currently eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine."

Texas is one of 11 states that had not yet included educators in priority groups for the vaccine.

For weeks, essential workers across industries have pushed to be included in the state’s next round of vaccinations. Educators have been especially vocal, with state data showing more than 60,000 staff members infected with COVID-19.

Ovidia Molina, president of the Texas State Teachers Association, has been fighting for vaccine priority for months, and called Wendesday’s guidance a “relief.”

“It's a hope that we will have some kind of protection from this pandemic, that we will not have to show up to work every day wondering if today is the day that we're going to get sick,” Molina said. “Today's the day that we're gonna bring it home.”

Molina added that while she was thankful vaccines will become available to educators, she was also concerned about vaccine access.

“With more vaccines coming, there is hope,” she said. “But we don't have them in our educators yet."

Meanwhile, the Texas Education Agency updated guidance Wednesday to state schools can establish their own rules around mask wearing after Gov. Greg Abbott announced he was rescinding the statewide mask order. Most Central Texas school districts — including Austin ISD — have said they will continue to require all staff, students and visitors to wear face coverings.

Houston Public Media's Laura Isensee contributed to this report.

Got a tip? Email Claire McInerny at claire@kut.org. Follow her on Twitter @ClaireMcInerny.

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