COMMENT: School staff need to be vaccinated as a priority

Everybody is agreed that we need to get schools open to all again and pupils back in classrooms as soon as possible.

Thursday, 11th February 2021, 12:00 am

Indeed, the government has repeatedly said it is a 'top priority'.

So why is it wasting the opportunity to use half-term next week as the ideal time to vaccinate school staff?

Headteachers in the Portsmouth area say it would be the logical thing to do - and it's hard to disagree.

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The simple truth is that if we want schools back to normal and children learning in the best environment, then teachers will need to be vaccinated first to enable that to happen.

If they're not, then schools run the risk of Covid cases leading to staff having to self-isolate - and that could mean lessons being cancelled and classes or whole year groups getting sent home again.

Children and parents have had to cope with remote learning for long enough.

So once schools reopen, we can't have a repeat of the kind of disruption we saw last year when staff shortages due to Covid led to pupils ending up back on laptops in bedrooms and at kitchen tables.

Teachers are understandably worried about infection if they mix with students.

As St Edmund’s Catholic School headteacher Simon Graham says: 'Vaccinations would provide a real sense of security and support the needs of our children by preventing further disruption.'

Most schools have set up testing centres that could easily be used for vaccinations.

The infrastructure is already there.

So we urge the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and the government to look again and consider how school staff can be vaccinated sooner than is presently planned in a priority system based on perceived risk.