Vigo County School Board urges Holcomb to extend vaccination eligibility to teachers

Wabash Valley COVID-19 updates

FILE – In this Jan. 22, 2021, file photo, empty vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are seen at a vaccination center at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in Las Vegas. The makers of COVID-19 vaccines are figuring out how to tweak their recipes against worrisome virus mutations — if and when the shots need an update. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Vigo County School Board urged Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb to expand vaccine eligibility to include teachers.

A letter the board wrote to Holcomb was made public Monday during the regular school board meeting.

State Representative Tonya Pffaff sent a similar letter to Holcomb earlier this month.

The Indiana Department of Health Tuesday announced that Hoosiers age 60 and older are now eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine.

Read the full letter from the Vigo County School Board below:

Governor Holcomb:

On behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Vigo County School Corporation, I respectfully ask you to consider extending COVID-19 vaccination prioritization to Hoosier K-12 educators.

As you know, having our students back in school full time is a top priority for our entire state. Not only is it in the best interest of our students, but it is also a critical component of our economic recovery. Parents and guardians need reliable school schedules so they can work themselves. We cannot provide that without adequate staffing, and that will remain difficult to achieve until our teacher workforce feels safe returning to school.

In Vigo County, we are encouraged to see COVID numbers declining and vaccination rates increasing for the most at-risk populations. There is still great concern, however, among educators about the spread of the virus in a traditional school day. Our workforce, like other sectors, is aging, and many teachers have underlying conditions or close family members who are at high-risk. In addition, most substitute teachers are themselves retired teachers. We rely on them to staff our classrooms when full time teachers are absent, but many of them have completely left the substitute pool because of fear of exposure to the virus. To reopen schools fully, we must prioritize their access to the vaccine. This will expedite Indiana’s return to normalcy far beyond public education.

We urge you to take immediate action on this. We cannot operate schools for the good of our students without teachers – essential workers – who feel safe, healthy, and ready to provide the best possible instruction every day.

Thank you for your serious consideration of our request.

Respectfully,

Jacqueline Lower

President, Vigo County School Board

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