BEAUMONT, Texas — Texas' largest teachers association is arguing that one educator death is too many.
TSTA is putting pressure on Gov. Abbott, advocating for teachers to be given priority access to the coronavirus vaccine.
TSTA president Ovidia Molina said she wants to know what the plan is going forward after Governor Abbott's remarks at Thursday's press conference left her with more questions than answers.
Where do teachers fit in the line for the COVID-19 vaccine?
On Thursday, outside of an Austin UPS distribution center, Gov. Greg Abbott said Texans could see widespread distribution of COVID-19 vaccines by March.
But Texas teachers could possibly see the vaccine sooner.
"Teachers, for example, play such a pivotal role in our society, and I consider them to be frontline workers," Abbott said. "So I urge and hope that teachers will be near the front of the line in receiving this vaccine."
Educators around the state heard this message.
"My reaction to hearing the governor say that we are towards the front of the line is just a big 'what does that mean?'" Molina said.
The TSTA has been fighting since the onset of the pandemic for safer working conditions, not just for teachers, but all the support staff that makes a school district run.
"In our public school systems, we have so many superheroes working to make the best education possible for all of our students that don't necessarily have the title of teacher," she said.
Several Southeast Texas educators have lost their battle with COVID-19, including a well-known band director and a beloved school transportation supervisor.
Molina said she wants to know if all school staff will be considered a priority, not just teachers.
"When there is a press conference and there are fancy words or words that we love to hear, for us during this whole pandemic, as educators we've been told one thing and then the rules change and we get slapped in the face," she said.
So far, the TSTA has not spoken with the governor's office or state officials to receive any additional information, Molina said.
She said she plans to continue to advocate for priority status behind healthcare workers for all school staff.
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