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‘You’re on eggshells’: Leon County Schools employee asking for educators to move up in vaccination line

Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 10:25 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, who should be next in line? It’s a question governors across the country are having to decide.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis is prioritizing the state’s seniors but now, more than a month in, some educators are saying they need to be next.

One Leon County Schools employee WCTV spoke with, Robert Becker, isn’t yet 65, but he is in his late 50s: He has diabetes, asthma and other conditions. He works with kids every day and says people like him need to be in front of the line.

“I really do love it, it’s great. I love working with the kids,” Becker says of his job as a cafeteria manager at a LCS high school.

Now, during the pandemic, he’s considered a risky frontline worker.

“You’re on eggshells,” he said.

Becker says his district has done a great job at battling the virus. He also supports Superintendent Rocky Hanna’s effort to get his eligible employees vaccinated. But, Becker says, the state should have put vulnerable educational staff higher up on the list.

“People in schools aren’t just working, they’re in the petri dish. They’re in it, surrounded by the highest spreaders,” he continued.

On Monday, Gov. DeSantis continued to defend his seniors-first plan.

“CDC-recommended workers ahead of elderly; the mortality statistics did not bear that out and I felt like you needed to get the vaccines to those at greatest risk,” he said.

DeSantis, when asked about teachers, suggested the up-and-coming Johnson & Johnson vaccine - yet to be approved - could open more doors.

“There’s just no easy way to get everybody done right off the bat,” he said.

For Becker, the process isn’t moving fast enough. His days are filled with fear.

“It eats at you like a cancer, it’s constantly on your mind. A lot of anxiety.”

According to EdWeek.org, 23 states have specifically approved vaccines for teachers and school staff. Florida and Georgia are not yet a part of that group.

WCTV reached out to Gov. DeSantis’ office for comment on this story and have not yet heard back. The Department of Education says they’re fully on board with the governor’s plan.

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