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Collier County teacher wants educators given next priority for COVID-19 vaccine

Teachers are among those waiting their turn to get the coronavirus vaccine, as the threat of COVID-19 inside schools rises. A teacher in Southwest Florida thinks educators should be the next group given priority for the vaccine.

Teaching in 2020 proved challenging for longtime educator Soraya Ahmed in Collier County.

“We were all stuck at home having to learn what the heck is Canvas? How do we go on Canvas?” Ahmed explained.

Canvas is an online learning platform for teachers and students, and Ahmed was required to learn how to navigate it.

“And guess what? I mastered it,” Ahmed said.

A new kind of challenge during the school year is her determination to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting for tickets, for tickets, for tickets, and then, all of a sudden, sold out, sold out, sold out. It already sold out,” Ahmed expressed her frustration so many in Southwest Florida have shared. “I’ll just jump on it the minute I can get it.”

Ahmed’s was out of school for hip surgery but returns to the classroom next week.

“I’s very scary because I’m going to be 72 years old in March,” Ahmed said.

She desperately wants a shot in the arm for COVID-19, and the teachers union believes she should get it.

“Our teachers are very concerned,” said Diana McGowen, the second vice president of the Collier County Education Association. “You know, it’s one of the things that, you know, we came back we are here for our students, and we want to stay healthy, so that we can continue to be here for our students.”

Florida’s Surgeon General Scott Rivkees says, right now, they have to focus on the 65 and up population.

“If there’s a teacher and educator who is 65 years of age and older, or if they have a serious underlying medical condition, those individuals can absolutely get vaccinated,” Rivkees said.

Statement from Collier County Public Schools superintend

“Collier County Public Schools strongly supports access to the COVID-19 vaccine for our 7,000 dedicated employees,” Superintendent Kamela Patton said in a statement. “While the COVID-19 vaccine is not a requirement of employment, educators should be prioritized in this process, and we certainly agree with the CDC’s classification of educators as frontline essential workers.”

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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