'Frontline' teachers still waiting turn for COVID-19 vaccine

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- While the COVID-19 vaccine is now being administered to members of the Houston Fire and Police Departments, teachers are still waiting their turn as they head back to work after the holiday break.

This time, more students will be returning to in-person learning. Without the vaccine to protect school staff, some teachers say they're upset about returning.

Weeks ago, Fort Bend County Judge K.P. George wrote a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott about the frontline tiers and how teachers needed to be included at the top. Gov. Abbott responded by saying teachers, who he called "frontline workers" would be near the front of the line, but when that will happen is uncertain.

SEE RELATED STORY: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hopes teachers 'will be near front of line' for COVID-19 vaccine

For nearly a month, health care workers have already been receiving the first dose of the vaccine.

Cesar Chavez High School English teacher Coretta Mallet-Fontenot said teachers deserve to be moved to the front of the line. She said there are also a number of teachers of color who are concerned.

"I think it's absolutely necessary that teachers be bumped to the front of the line because we are encountering multiple students, in large and small groups, who are coming in and out of the community. We want to make sure that we are not taking anything that could be potentially harmful back to our own families," Mallet-Fontenot said.

She said it's not just when they will get the vaccine that has been a challenge for teachers. At the beginning of the pandemic, people were praising teachers for working virtually, but that support is no longer there.

She said parents have told her that they would feel safer if their children's teachers had the vaccine.

"You have many schools and many teachers who are sitting in classrooms that are full of students," she said. "Keep in mind, initially when this first occurred, parents were like 'Yay, we love our teachers, we love our teachers,' but then when teachers began to express their own concern for their health, they began getting attacked for doing so."

This is all happening while teachers remain underpaid in this country, she added.

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