SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Shelby County Commissioners passed a resolution Monday asking the state health department to get school teachers and staff vaccinated as soon as possible.
Dr. Bruce Randolph with the Shelby County Health Department said his hands are tied because the state controls the priority list for vaccines. He said he hopes the state agrees to move teachers up the vaccine priority list.
“There have been some discussions about it, and at that time, the answer was no, we have to keep the teachers where they are,” said Randolph.
Randolph said he hopes pressure from Shelby County Commissioners will persuade the state to move teachers higher on the vaccine priority list.
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The resolution, which passed unanimously, mentions the pressure to return to school and even the concern that states like Tennessee are considering penalizing districts that don’t offer in-person learning.
Randolph said right now the plan is to get school teachers and staff vaccinated by the end of the month or early March.
“This resolution, hopefully, will bring some influence to move it up,” said Randolph.
Right now, Shelby County Schools has not announced when they will allow in-person learning, but during a school board meeting last Thursday, Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray discussed the need for teachers and staff to get vaccinated.
Danette Stokes with the United Association of Educators of Shelby County agrees and said it’s time for the state to make it happen.
“We need the governor to step up and give us priority access to those vaccines, so we are very grateful for our commissioners for doing that for us,” said Stokes.
Even though there is no time frame for teacher vaccinations, Randolph said they’re making plans now, like having vaccination pods at schools to make it easier for staff. This way, when it does happen, it can be a smooth transition to shots in arms.
“It’s very important that we get additional vaccines along with the moving up of teachers to a sooner phase,” said Randolph.
A recent bill that threatened to withhold school funding never passed, but clearly, the message made an impact.
FOX13 reached out to the State Health Department and asked if they would consider moving teachers up on the priority list, but we didn’t hear back.
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