Gov. Kevin Stitt, on Wednesday of this week, announced that all school employees will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as early as February 22nd. This development allows for approximately 89,000 public school employees, if they so choose, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the next several weeks.
In December, Gov. Stitt and Secretary of Education Ryan Walters upgraded the priority of public-school employees in the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan from phase 3 to phase 2. School employees 65 and over were made the top priority. Since December, a large number of teachers and school staff over the age of 65 have chosen to be vaccinated. Starting February 22nd, all teachers and school staff will be eligible for the vaccine.
“Our goal is to ensure that any teacher or staff member who wants to receive the COVID-19 vaccine has the opportunity to do so by spring break this year,” said Walters. “Everyone who works at a school plays an important part in a child’s life: their teachers, bus drivers, administrators and cafeteria staff. They work hard to care for our kids — and I’m glad we’re able to care for their health and safety, too.”
Following the announcement, The Deputy Commissioner of Community Health Services Keith Reed instructed all school districts to work with their local health director to ensure a smooth and efficient vaccine rollout. Reed explained that each school district should provide the following information to their local health directors:
- Number of teachers and staff that wish to receive the vaccine
- Dates and time you can make teachers and staff available for vaccination
- Any other information that might contribute to an organized, and efficient vaccination effort
Following the press conference, Ginger Tinney, executive director of POE, expressed her support for the distribution plan and thanked the Governor and Secretary of Education for working closely with POE on this endeavor.
“Gov. Kevin Stitt’s announcement today to make the COVID-19 vaccine available for all Oklahoma school employees is a critical step forward in keeping teachers and students safe,” Tinney said. “Since August, the vast majority of POE members have been working in-person or employed by districts with an in-person option. POE’s focus has been on the prioritization of all school employees for the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as appropriate health safety procedures for districts and special accommodations for at-risk individuals. We are grateful for Gov. Stitt and Sec. Ryan Walters’ willingness to work with POE on prioritizing school employees for the COVID-19 vaccine. The pandemic is not over, but we are encouraged by this step to protect our educators and children.”