BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — “We think that they deserve to be protected from COVID,” declared Rachel Fix Dominguez, co-chair, Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization (BPTO).
The BPTO posted a petition on change.org asking for support to get Buffalo Public School employees vaccinated.
Fix Dominguez said they are calling on the New York State Department of Health to send the city school district vaccines so it can distribute them.
“And that means teachers, teachers aides and assistants, cafeteria workers, janitors, administrators — bus drivers, bus aides — people who are working with our kids,” Fix Dominguez explained.
Teachers and school staffers are part of 1-B-phase for those eligible for vaccines.
But with a vaccine shortage city school district teachers and staffers are scrambling to get the shot.
That's why Buffalo Schools superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash is calling on the state to supply 50,000 vaccines.
In a statement, Dr. Cash says the district has the security teams and necessary refrigeration to quote "get the job done".
“In large urban school districts, schools are the epicenters of their communities. Make the vaccines available to us. We can help. We’re prepared to help. We have the facilities, the school nurses, the cleaning staff, the transportation systems, the communications systems, the security teams, and the necessary refrigeration to get the job done. Provide us 50,000 vaccines to start, and we’ll get the first dose done in two weeks, and then we can continue from there.”
Fix Dominguez says the infrastructure to distribute the vaccine is already in place.
“BPS is a very large employer in our region and as a district, BPS has given vaccinations to its employees such as the flu shot in the past,” noted Fix Dominguez.
But on the BPTO Facebook page there was some criticism asking why people should sign a petition for city teachers when all teachers are trying to get vaccinated.
“Why would you think that they would step forward and give the city school district (vaccines) — what's different?” Buckley asked.
“I don't think that this is a zero sum game where Buffalo Public Schools deserves it more than anyone else,” Fix Dominguez replied.
It is not clear at this point how many city teachers have received the vaccine.
7 Eyewitness News did reach out to the Buffalo Teachers Federation, but have not yet heard back.
The state's largest teachers union says it wants to be a part of helping get vaccinations for educators.
New York State United Teachers issued this statement on the topic:
“Getting education professionals prioritized for the vaccine was the first step. Now we need the federal supply to catch up with demand so the educators who want their vaccine are able to get one in a timely fashion. We stand ready to help our members through this process, and our efforts are focused on communicating with the state on how to connect local unions that want to play a role with their local departments of health to ramp up efforts to get shots in arms.”
NYSUT President Andy Pallotta
“I would encourage and advocate for all parents around the state, around the country, around the world — to advocate to get these vaccines in the arms of the people who are tending to our children during the school day,” stated Fix Dominguez.
The NYSDOH said as Governor Cuomo stated January 15, teachers may get vaccinated at county or state vaccination sites, and he has also encouraged unions to organize vaccinations for their members.
DOH issued the following state in response to our request to respond to the BPTO petition for vaccines:
"We also are asking the public employees, or private employees, who are police, fire, teachers, public safety workers, transit workers, if you can self-administer, or if you can just take an allocation and bring it to your provider, or if your EMS workers can do your fire department; your EMS workers can do your police department, please do that because that relieves stress on the distribution system. And many unions have been very helpful with this. Many police departments have medical professionals, and they are administering to their police. Fire departments, the same thing. Teachers unions in some places have done the same thing, where the teachers union will take the allocation, go to a select provider, and that's a big benefit to all of us because it removes pressure on the distribution network."
New York State Department of Health