School leaders call for teachers to be vaccinated

Over one hundred headteachers have demanded the government agree to vaccinate all teachers across the UK in a bid to return children to the classroom “without further delay”.

The 135 school leaders, the majority of which are from independent schools, signed a letter calling for staff within the education sector to be vaccinated.

In the letter, coordinated by William Goldsmith, headmaster of St George’s School Windsor Castle, they said: “This is saving lives, bringing light to a dark period for many and giving hope that pupils will be back in their schools without any further delay.

“To support this mission, we urge the government to vaccinate all teachers and school staff, along with other priority groups of workers.

“The emotional and social wellbeing of young people is a significant concern to us, and every day we see the need for pupils to be in school; with each hour that passes the need to be back with their peers and teachers grows stronger.

“Teachers have demonstrated that they are ready for the challenge ahead; without neglecting anyone’s safety, reopening schools from March 8 should be the priority under any circumstance.”

The Labour Party has suggested that once those in the first four categories have been vaccinated, the February half-term, which begins on Monday, was the opportune time for teachers and support staff to receive the jab.

However, Boris Johnson has rejected this proposal, warning that is risked “delaying our route out of lockdown” by diverting vaccines away from some of those most likely to need hospital treatment or die. The Prime Minister has previously said at a Downing Street press conference that he hopes to start reopening schools in England by 8th March at the earliest.

A government spokesperson said: “We are committed to reopening schools as soon as the public health picture allows, and will set out further plans for education settings, parents, pupils and students as soon as possible, providing as much notice as we can.

“We continue to follow the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, whose priority list is designed by experts and clinicians to prioritise those at greatest risk from coronavirus.”