‘It’s a slap in the face’: Tampa Bay educators furious with governor, want to be prioritized for COVID vaccine

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Teachers call it a “slap in the face.”

Many educators throughout Tampa Bay are upset that Governor Ron DeSantis does not consider them “essential workers“ when it comes to their place in line for the COVID-19 vaccine.

As more and more educators become frustrated and fed up during this pandemic, they also say they feel forgotten.

Education activist, Bianca Goolsby, tells us it’s simple, and she hopes the governor is listening.

“If Ron DeSantis hears my voice, he needs to understand the teachers are a priority, our children are a priority. Our children are suffering and our teachers are stressed out,” she said.

A big part of that stress, according to Bianca and many others, involves educators feeling left out and low on the list of priorities when it comes to receiving the vaccine – now.

Many teachers tell 8 On Your Side, they are livid, and claim their lives are at risk each and every time they walk into the classroom, especially with COVID cases climbing.

If you are going to have our educators on the front lines, they need to be protected as possible,” said Goolsby.

The activist tells 8 On Your Side she hears from countless teachers and parents each day through her education organization, Teaching for the Culture, so much so that she described opening her email inbox each day as, “the floodgate.”

Tampa Bay educators also admit they do not feel safe in school, constantly worried about how to stay healthy. In addition, they maintain that as they search for answers, they’re led back to the same question – asking the governor, why won’t he classify them as essential workers.

“The crowds in the classroom are already pretty thick and it will get worse, the more the kids return,” said Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association president Nancy Velardi.

In fact, educators from various school districts have put their pain in writing, detailing their request and frustrations in petitions. School board members from both Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties are now officially calling on the governor for help.

“Governor Ron DeSantis of the 2020 would be the year of the teacher, we have yet to see that,” said Bianca. “He needs to do the right thing. Transparency, integrity and accountability, that’s what we need.”

The governor touted his policy again on Tuesday of giving vaccine priority to seniors.

More than 50 percent of the total vaccinations administered in the state have been for individuals 65 and older, and we continue to accelerate this rate,” DeSantis said in a video message released Tuesday morning.

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