ATLANTA - The superintendents of nearly a dozen metro Atlanta school districts have signed a letter sent to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to prioritize educators in the state’s plans to distribute the COVID-19 vaccines.
The letter echoes the sentiments of a letter sent by more than a dozen school board members from across metro Atlanta.
The letter reads in part:
"We come to you as a united group to ask for your help in affirming that teachers are valued in Georgia. Like you, we know the challenges and difficulties of leading during a pandemic, and we remain hopeful that the COVID-19 vaccination will soon begin to positively impact the lives and futures of many within our state. It is this hope that motivates us to come together as we have done so often throughout this pandemic. With the deepest respect but also the strongest sense of urgency, we ask you to move our teachers and education staff into the 1A category.
"Our schools have always been a source of stability and safety to students and families. Though our districts have chosen different paths and approaches to reopening this school year, we have all been unwavering in our belief that children need teachers and schools. For many children, there is no replacement or substitute for in-person/face-to-face learning from an educator. As superintendents, we hear each day from families who implore us to not return to a full virtual model; likewise, we hear each day from teachers who are scared about the threat of COVID-19 to them and their loved ones. At its heart, a school is a group of students and a group of educators; the magic that happens depends on both groups being together.
"We need your help because our ability to remain open depends significantly on our staff feeling safe and staying healthy. The longer we delay in vaccinating our teachers and school staff, the more we risk having to close our doors once again. The educators in our districts have given tirelessly in time, effort, and dedication, especially during the pandemic; we ask you to recognize their value and importance of our schools by doing what is needed to keep them safe and keep our schools open; allow teachers to be vaccinated now."
The letter is signed by the school superintendents of Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Rockdale counties as well Atlanta Public Schools, Buford, Decatur, and Marietta city schools.
Cody Hall, the Director of Communications for the Office of the Georgia Governor, released the following statement in response:
"This is a simple math problem the superintendents who signed this letter should certainly understand. As the Governor and Dr. Toomey have said multiple times: Georgia is not currently receiving enough vaccine supply to provide priority vaccination to over 400,000 teachers and school staff. Additional vaccine does not appear out of thin air and the data is clear. With a weekly allocation of 146,000 doses, the current 1A plus population still accounts for over 2 million high-risk Georgians. Georgia has currently reported over 741,000 vaccinations. These superintendents should explain which currently eligible population should be, in their view, sent to the back of the line for vaccination. Seniors? Healthcare workers? First responders and law enforcement? The Governor has repeatedly stated - as recently as today - that as soon as Georgia begins to receive increased vaccine supply, teachers and school staff will absolutely be included in any expanded criteria."
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