ROXBURY, NJ – Public school personnel should be deemed “essential workers” and given priority over others for COVID-19 vaccinations, says the Roxbury School Board.

The board, on Monday, passed a resolution that sends that message to Gov. Phil Murphy and other state officials. The resolution requests Murphy “to include public school district personnel in the official expert vaccine allotment panel’s definition of frontline workers.”

The board voted unanimously in favor of the resolution.

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“I think everybody feels the same way … in strongly endorsing our resolution and giving our teachers, and everybody in education, a higher priority for getting the vaccine for those who want it,” said Roxbury Board of Education Member Leo Coakley after the vote.

The resolution asserts that public schools “have a profound impact on millions of students, families and staff and are charged with the care, education, nourishment of their students and are an integral part of the health and safety of our communities.”

It cites the measures taken in Roxbury schools since the rise of the pandemic nearly a year ago, noting the district provided students and teachers with technology and resources “to ensure the efficient delivery of instruction” both in person and in remote fashion.

Nevertheless, in the resolution, the board said it “recognizes that this health emergency made it necessary to close schools and reinvent the educational programs in a virtual setting and that this may have an adverse impact on student achievement and the emotional and social wellbeing of students.”

Because school staffers “are essential to the day-to-day operations of the district, responsible for the thorough and efficient education of all students and their social and emotional wellbeing,” they should be classified as essential workers by the state in Phase 1B of the vaccine rollout, argues the resolution.

The board voted to send copies of the document to Murphy, to Roxbury’s representatives in the state Assembly and state Senate, to state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney and to the state School Boards Association.

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