Open Letter to Texas Health Commissioner: Educators Are Front-Line Workers

Text says, "Educators are front-line workers. They deserve the protections of front-line workers." Background image is of a COVID-19 molecule.

Dec. 8, 2020

Dr. John Hellerstedt

Texas Department of State Health Services

P.O. Box 149347

Austin, Texas 78714-9347


Dear Dr. Hellerstedt,

Whether they’re classroom teachers, support professionals, school counselors, or bus drivers, our educators are essential front-line workers. They deserve the protections of front-line workers.

In one of the most difficult and stressful periods in our state’s history, Texas educators have been asked to go above and beyond on behalf of our students and communities. They teach online and in person, and (too often) do both simultaneously, all the while putting their lives and the lives of their family members on the line.

We ask you to prioritize educators and school employees as they develop vaccine allocation plans.

Texas is seeing an unsustainable increase in hospitalizations because of COVID-19 — without additional statewide mitigation efforts. The number of Texans hospitalized with COVID-19 and the seven-day average of new cases have nearly tripled since the beginning of October. And teachers are still in their classrooms. Bus drivers, cafeteria workers, nurses, and counselors are all still on the job, and they are constantly at risk of being exposed to the virus.

All school employees are at great risk of contracting COVID-19, and they need your support.

Please prioritize all educators and school employees as you fulfill your mission as announced by Gov. Greg Abbott: “Protecting front-line workers who are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the nature of their work providing critical services and preserving the economy.” If there is anything I can do to assist you in this important work, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Zeph Capo's signature

Zeph Capo
President of the Texas American Federation of Teachers


Take Action

This pandemic continues to worsen, and our school employees are still on the job. Send a letter to members of the state’s COVID-19 vaccine allocation panel and tell them to prioritize educators in their plans.