Thursday's Thoughts

PSTA Weekly News

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LAN Action Alert: Call for Immediate Action

Yesterday, the Senate passed S. 516, the bill introduced by Senator Shane Massey last week that would give educators priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine in connection with a requirement for districts to offer five day, face-to-face instruction. However, the version of the bill passed by the Senate includes significant differences from the version that was introduced last week. The final Senate version would:

  • Require DHEC to include educators and child care providers in Phase 1A for vaccine distribution. NOTE- this is not as strong as the original legislation, which would have require vaccination of all educators within 30 days of the bill's passage into law. The version that passed the Senate would only make educators eligible to register for the vaccine as part of Phase 1A- it would NOT guarantee receiving the vaccine within 30 days.
  • Require all districts to offer a five day, face-to-face option for students, starting the Monday after the district's scheduled spring break. This would NOT require all students to attend five day, face-to-face; it only requires districts to offer the option to families. In terms of implementation, this would seem to eliminate the option of a hybrid model (meaning less than 5 days per week in the building)
  • Raise the earnings limit for working retires from $10,000 to $50,000 for any individual working in a public school district. This increase in the cap would be in place through June 30, 2024. To be eligible, an individual must be retired for 2 years.

While the version of S. 516 is not as strong the original bill offered by Senator Massey, it still moves educators closer to access to the vaccine than the position taken by the Governor. The Governor has repeatedly stated in the last week that he will attempt to prevent any measure to give educators any higher priority for vaccine access than they currently have (meaning, placement in Phase 1B).

Need for Action

The House received S. 516 this morning and assigned it to the Ways and Means Committee. In order for educators to have any chance of vaccination prior to a statewide mandate of five day, face-to-face instruction, the House must act quickly on S. 516. As a result, ALL PSTA members are encouraged to do the following immediately:

  • Contact members of the House Ways and Means Committee to ask them to quickly schedule review of S. 516. You can find the members of the committee by clicking here. If you click on each name, you can email or call them; or, if you click "Contact" under the name of the committee you can email the entire committee.
  • Contact your representative in the House and ask for them to support legislation that would ensure educators have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated BEFORE the state mandates all districts to offer five day, face-to-face instruction. To identify your member of the House, please click here and enter you home address.
In talking with members of the House, please feel free to pull from these talking points. In particular, the talking points around staffing levels within schools have been very well received by legislators, and that point provides a more complete narrative around why vaccine access is important than the one being offered by the Governor.

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February 2021 on

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