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Treasure Coast educators say all teachers should be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

'There's a lot of frustration,' teacher says
Posted at 10:10 PM, Mar 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 23:23:57-05

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Teachers 50 years and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order Monday making educators, police and firefighters priority for the vaccine.

"Well, honestly, my first reaction is that it's about time," said Dave Freeland, president of the Education Association of St. Lucie County.

"I really do wish they just opened it to all of us," said Marilyn Southwick, who teaches 10th grade history at Martin County High School.

Both Southwick and Freeland said that the governor's order does not go far enough.

"There's a lot of frustration," said Southwick. "We're being treated like essential workers. The idea of you have to go in, we weren't really given an option besides quit your job in our area for work as teachers."

To date, there have been 300 positive coronavirus cases in the Martin County School District.

In St. Lucie County, there have been 596 cases and 271 were employee cases.

"I'm doing my job," said Southwick. "They're learning about the French Revolution but the community and connection, it's just not the same this year. I miss it a lot."

"We're being treated like essential workers in every way except a way they can protect us the best, which is being vaccinated," said Freeland.

St. Lucie County Superintendent Wayne Gent said teachers who are eligible will begin to receive the vaccine next week through the local health department.

"Seventy percent of our students are back," said Gent.

"I'm glad we have recognized at least some of our educators who need the vaccine, but it's not enough, and it's late in coming," said Freeland.