PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The Pinellas County School Board wants all district employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as soon as possible.

The board met Tuesday to discuss sending a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis, asking that employees be classified as essential workers so they can be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine sooner.

The letter asks the Governor to prioritize school district employees across the state.

The motion to approve the letter supporting statewide prioritization of school district employees for COVID-19 vaccination distribution passed 6-0.

The school board called school employees frontline heroes who serve their students, families and community on a daily basis.

The board highlighted the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Pinellas County and across the state.

Data from the Florida Department of Health showed more than 50,000 cases in Pinellas County on Monday.

Overall, there have been almost 1.5 million cases in the state.

When asked about giving the vaccine to teachers over the weekend, Desantis said seniors remain a top priority. 

“This virus has been more deadly people who are elderly,” Desantis said. “By focusing on 65+ that is the best thing we can do to reduce mortality from COVID-19, so it’s not saying anyone is more important, but we have to stand by our elderly folks.”

In the letter, the school board recognized and supported the need to vaccinate vulnerable healthcare workers, long-term care facility residents and citizens 65 years and older.

President of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association Nancy Velardi said the teacher’s union sent its own petition to the governor, urging teachers get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“You can’t say it is essential to keep schools open to stimulate the economy so parents can work, and fill up schools and not vaccinate teachers,” Velardi said. “More teachers will get sick, our caseloads are rising. It is not a safe situation to put that many people in small, enclosed spaces.

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