Orange County School Board members approved sending a letter written to Governor Ron DeSantis encouraging the consideration of allowing all essential K-12 employees with direct contact to students to be prioritized for vaccination. This has been a top concern for many local teachers and education staff.
“Along with the many critical issues you have addressed since the onset of this pandemic, one of the most difficult decisions you have had to make is prioritizing vaccination eligibility,” the letter stated. “You have indicated that your initial focus would be on those most at risk of serious or fatal consequences.”
Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith offered his full support to make the COVID vaccine immediately available to public school employees 65+ using district infrastructure for flu vaccines. “Governor DeSantis should make COVID-19 vaccines immediately available to K-12 essential Florida teachers and school district personnel 65+ currently in direct contact with students,” Smith said. “In Orange, that’s only 875 employees on the front lines in our schools. With most school districts already relying on third party vendors to administer flu vaccines, Florida can move quickly and with immediate impact while also expanding state capacity for the rollout and mitigating community resurgence. This is a WIN-WIN. Let’s get it done!”
In the event the Governor cannot support that request, the School Board urges the Governor to allow those essential K-12 employees who are deemed to be at risk due to age and/or underlying health conditions to be eligible for the vaccine within the cohort of those 65 and older for the COVID-19 vaccination.
“This action would save lives within a vulnerable population and improve student outcomes by increasing student access to highly trained and competent teachers and front-line employees,” a draft of the Orange County School Board letter stated. “In addition, this approach would be consistent with your priorities and would not put healthy young people ahead of the most vulnerable in our State.”