MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Montgomery Public Schools system has asked Gov. Kay Ivey to make its personnel a priority for getting the COVID-19 vaccine even while hearing State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris announce as much Friday morning.
“I mean our letter was in the draft stages prior to his announcement,” MPS Superintendent Dr. Ann Roy Moore explained, adding that she sent the letter anyway to Ivey and Harris with a simple request.
According to the letter, MPS officials said they are “grappling” with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and has suffered several employee deaths while “several others” are recovering from the virus.
“These losses have caused emotional and mental trauma throughout the district,” the letter stated.
“All we’re saying, and all I’m saying as superintendent, is we are not first responders, but we are first-line kind of people,” said Moore. “If the children can’t come to school, the parents can’t go to work.”
“I know they’re hoping there will be a vaccine available soon,” Moore added. “We’re hoping there will be a vaccine available soon. We want every student back in a classroom.”
MPS’s letter also pointed out that the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, has confirmed racial and ethnic minorities are at a greater risk of getting sick and dying from the virus.
“As a school district with a large minority population among both students and employees, we acutely feel the urgency of bringing the pandemic under control,” MPS’s letter added.
MPS said the pandemic has forced several of its schools to be placed under mandatory quarantines. The system recently made the decision to move to a virtual learning environment for students and personnel.
On Monday, Moore announced the school district would return to remote learning on Feb. 1, and it would continue until the vaccine was made available to MPS employees. Several MPS teachers and other staff have died this school year and Alabama State Superintendent Eric Mackey has confirmed some of those deaths were related to COVID-19.
“We just decided this is getting a little bit much. We can’t find subs, and so for that reason we made the decision to go virtual,” Moore explained.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris announced Friday that teachers would be eligible for the vaccine starting Feb. 8, but the supply of vaccines for the entire state is still very limited and there isn’t enough to cover for the eligible population.
“Several smaller school districts in the state have begun receiving vaccines,” MPS’s letter to the governor stated. “We hope you will consider our request to expedite the distribution of the vaccine to MPS.”
The school system has asked for a response from the governor within a week.