Brunswick County asks state to include school employees in Group 2 vaccination process
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The Brunswick County Board of Education wants public school employees to be a part of the current group allowed to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
On Tuesday, school board members approved a resolution to send to Governor Roy Cooper requesting him to modify Group 2 of the COVID-19 vaccination process to include public school employees.
“The success and wellbeing of a community begins with adequate educational opportunities,” Vice-Chair BCS Board of Education Steven Barger said. “We must call on Governor Cooper to elevate the position of school staff on vaccine administration lists. I’m proud of our board for passing this resolution and showing we value our staff and stand with them.”
However some teachers believe there are more immediate actions the board could take to make teachers feel safe. WWAY spoke with three Brunswick County teachers on the condition of anonymity due to concerns about retaliation.
“I appreciate the gesture, I’m just not sure it’s relevant or if it’s even possible,” said the first teacher.
These three teachers feel the move is more of a symbolic gesture than a meaningful plan of action, as vaccine supply in Brunswick County is limited.
“Our seniors are not even close to being done getting vaccinated, so it’s going to be a while even if our board pushes for us to be vaccinated,” said the second teacher.
New guidance from the CDC says schools can reopen without teachers being vaccinated, as long as they mandate masks and enforce social distancing. The teachers WWAY spoke with say that isn’t entirely possible.
“If you can be six feet apart at an elementary school then I congratulate you, but it’s really hard,” said the first teacher.
“4th and 5th grade particularly, they’re at 19, 20 plus students, and with all the desks it’s just not physically possible for them to be all six feet apart,” said the second teacher.
The teachers say right now they want the board to focus on making schools safer until the vaccine is more widely available.
“We need the board to react proactively to protect their staff and students because Plan A isn’t working and our numbers clearly show that,” said the third teacher.
We reached out to other school districts in our area to ask if they were considering similar resolutions asking the governor to prioritize teachers for the vaccine. Both Pender and Columbus counties said they might consider it, but that nothing is official yet.
A spokesperson for New Hanover County Schools said they would reach out to the school board and get back to us.
Watch Tuesday’s full Brunswick County Board of Education meeting here.