Breaking News
More () »

Austin ISD says teachers, staff will possibly get vaccine in phase two of distribution, APH says it's not final

At a school board meeting Dec. 14, the superintendent said teachers and staff will possibly be part of phase two in the vaccine distribution.

AUSTIN, Texas — Teachers and staff in Austin ISD could soon get a coronavirus vaccine, the superintendent said at a school board meeting. On Tuesday, Austin Public Health said it has not been determined specifically when teachers and staff will be vaccinated.

At the Dec. 14 meeting, the superintendent, Dr. Stephanie Elizalde, said teachers and school staff will possibly be part of phase two of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Elizalde said the vaccine will be administered only among teachers and staff that are in direct contact with students. She said that includes bus drivers, special education teachers and custodians. 

"The vaccination can't come soon enough," said Heather Merrit, an Austin ISD special education teacher. 

Merrit has been teaching in-person since September.

"I think we've been extremely safe, particularly at my school, following the science, helping kids stay six feet apart," said Merrit. 

Merrit said she can finally look forward to getting even more protection.

"I will definitely be getting a vaccination. I feel very strongly about supporting science and I think we've gone through proper measures to make sure that it's safe," said Merrit.

"We did get news that our teachers will be in the second phase because they know how important our teachers are to our schools," the superintendent said. "So the lobbying that we did collectively – our voices were heard and teachers will, in fact, be in phase two."

The superintendent said they will prioritize people by age and those who are at high risk of contracting the virus.


Frontline workers are the only people getting the COVID-19 vaccine right now. A spokesperson for the Department of State Health Services said we could see more widespread availability in Texas in the next few weeks.

"Much of this is dependent on the rollout and quantities of the vaccine, and there may be additional factors, such as age and underlying health conditions, that could make a difference in when teachers and staff are able to access the vaccine," APH said. "Teachers/school personnel along with other critical infrastructure could begin getting access to vaccine as early as Phase 1b, noting that the supply will still be limited and may not meet the demand for the entire education infrastructure."

The rollout will be focused on educators and staff that are at the highest risk for contracting and transmitting the virus and at the highest risk of a severe case. APH said Phase 2 is expected to provide enough vaccine access for a majority of education system personnel.

"The Department of State Health Services has indicated that Phase 2 would roll out in the next few months, possibly the end of January through July 2021. Austin Public Health will be one of over 200 providers of the COVID-19 vaccine in Austin-Travis County, and will focus on those without insurance," said APH. "Austin Public Health, in partnership with the Austin-Travis County Vaccine Coalition, is still working with community groups, including our school systems, to develop a local set of metrics for COVID-19 vaccine distribution."

When that day comes, Merrit said she'll be ready.

"I think it will help as far as people feeling a little bit more confident about being in schools," said Merrit.

Also discussed at the board meeting was the possibility of Austin ISD students returning to remote-only learning. Recently, Austin Public Health said Austin is in danger of reaching Stage 5 guidelines if new cases don't slow down. Elizalde said if that happens, APH could recommend that all extracurricular activities at Austin ISD be suspended and that schools transition to 100% remote learning.

If Travis County does transition into Stage 5, Austin ISD will offer free COVID-19 testing on Jan. 7 and Jan. 8.

A Round Rock ISD spokesperson also told KVUE it's strongly advocating for school staff to be part of the next vaccination tier. Before Christmas break, the school district said it's sending staff a survey to gauge who will be interested in getting the vaccine once it gets to that point.

WATCH: UT Austin leaders discuss COVID-19 vaccine distribution


Austin City Council, Austin ISD Board candidates square off in runoff election

Another widespread freeze on the way

Austin-based SolarWinds among US agencies hacked in monthslong global cyberspying campaign

First health care workers in Austin receive coronavirus vaccine Tuesday

Before You Leave, Check This Out