DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – While several local school districts push for masks, North Texas schools are not requiring vaccines for teachers.
A CBS 11 I-Team investigation found most school districts are not even asking teachers about their vaccination status.
Out of the 42 school districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that responded to an I-Team survey, only six districts said they were either keeping track of teacher vaccination rates or had an estimated vaccination rate based on anonymous surveys.
With concerns about the delta variant’s impact on children, anxious parents are seeking information as they try to determine their child’s Covid-19 risks.
For some this includes whether their child’s teacher has been vaccinated.
“Parents are definitely concerned. You don’t know who’s vaccinated in the building and who’s not,” said Seneca Denman, a teacher at Dallas ISD’s Haynes Global Prep Academy. “I would tell parents that I’m fully vaccinated if that helps ease their minds.”
But not every teacher is comfortable with sharing that information and school districts say due to privacy laws they can’t tell a parent whether their child’s teacher has been vaccinated.
San Antonio ISD is the only major school district in Texas to require all its staff to be vaccinated.
While no school district in North Texas requires its employees to be vaccinated, a handful are keeping track of their staff’s overall vaccination rate.
Midlothian ISD said its campus vaccination rates range from 58% to 91%.
Carrolton Farmers Branch ISD said based on an anonymous poll at the end of last year, 85% of its staff is vaccinated
In Highland Park ISD, 70% of teachers said they were vaccinated in a voluntary survey. District officials said there may be more who haven’t told them.
Meanwhile, Dallas ISD and Garland ISD are offering staff members a $500 vaccination incentive. School officials note the incentive programs will provide the districts with an estimated staff vaccination rate without mandating its employees to report their vaccination status.
“Especially in Texas, I think the incentive program is probably your best option because it doesn’t look like it’s a mandate,” said Merrill Matthews a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation. “Schools have shifted from the stick to the carrot approach, and they are looking for carrots to get their staff vaccinated.”
San Marcos ISD, located 200 miles south of Dallas, was one of first districts in Texas to roll out a vaccine incentive program – giving teachers and staff $250 for proof of vaccination.
“We want to be the innovators,” said San Marcos ISD spokesperson Andrew Fernandez. “We are not going to force any staff member to take the vaccine, but our hopes are if they feel comfortable that they trust the science behind a vaccine that they can receive the vaccine and receive an incentive to go along with that.”
Before the program was announced, San Marcos ISD estimated 70% of its staff was vaccinated. The district said it’s now pushing 90% vaccination.
It is too early to know the impact of the vaccine incentive programs in Dallas ISD and Garland ISD.
“I think it’s a good idea for Dallas ISD,” Denman said. “I think it will ease parents’ minds knowing that their teachers are vaccinated, and their children are going through a building where the teachers are vaccinated.”