Teachers should be prioritised for Covid vaccine to keep schools open, MPs & heads demand


TEACHERS should be prioritised for the Covid vaccine to keep England’s schools open, MPs and heads have demanded.

The call comes amid fury that more than 1 million primary school kids in the worst Covid hotspots will not return to the classroom as planned.

Schools in hotspots face a delayed return until January 18 – which may be even longer
Kids were expected to go back to class on January 4, but only some now will

Thousands of primary schools in these areas will be closed - with a decision on secondary schools to be taken before January 18

Thousands of primary schools in these areas will be closed – with a decision on secondary schools to be taken before January 18

Experts begged ministers to use the many millions of doses of the Oxford vaccine to inoculate England’s army of school staff.

They said this is the only way to get kids back to class quickly and prevent a massive education postcode lottery opening up.

Steve Chalke, who runs the Oasis Academy Trust which has more than 50 schools, said “only the vaccine changes the game”.

He said: “Not only are school staff key workers. More than that, they are now in the eye of the Covid storm.

“So we must offer them the protection they need to do the job.

“That means ensuring they are at the front of the queue – on a par with NHS and care workers – to be offered the vaccine.”

It came as:

  • Another 20 million people woke up in Tier 4 today as three quarters of England was shoved into the highest level of restrictions
  • A Sage expert said England will probably be in a full lockdown by the end of January – but Gavin Williamson ruled out national action
  • Boris said the Tiers system would likely last until April – but may be moved up if the vaccine rollout goes well
  • Deaths reached nearly 1,000 yesterday – with 50,000 new cases

Robert Halfon, Tory MP and boss of the education select committee, also weighed in.

He told BBC Breakfast: “Now that we’ve got the Oxford vaccine, I want to see that teachers and support staff are made an absolute priority for vaccinations.

“Because if we can make sure that they’re vaccinated and they’re safe, it’s less likely that schools will have to close.”

One teacher, Lucy, told LBC she was “petrified” at the thought of catching Covid at school – and that she was losing her hair and sleep over it.

She said: “This is just so terrifying for all of us. I do not know or cannot remember…. deciding to put my life and the life of my family on the line to educate children.

“It is terrifying.”

Currently vaccines are dished out according to who is most likely to die from coronavirus.

The clinically vulnerable, over 50s and NHS and social care staff are in line to get the jab in the first vaccination wave.

The second prioritisation list which spells out who gets the jab after them has not been released yet.

Mr Halfon also said primaries in Covid hotspots which have been ordered to close for an extra two weeks must not be allowed to stay shut longer.

He warned: “This two weeks has to mean two weeks – schools can’t just be a revolving door that never stands still, open one day, shut the next, because it’s very damaging to the life chances of these pupils.”

The government has sparked fury after announcing a shock delay to the return of kids to class after the Christmas holidays.

Primaries across 50 Covid hotspots across London and the South East will stay shut for most kids for at least another two weeks – and could stay closed longer if their infection rates do not come down.

They will open for the kids of key workers, and vulnerable children.

A staggering 1.05 million primary kids will have to be home-schooled because of the shutdown.

Secondary schools across England will have to stay shut for at least two weeks

Gavin Williamson announced the changes in the Commons yesterday

While secondary schools in these areas could also stay shut. They will hear their fate on January 13.

Across the rest of the country the return of secondary schools has been delayed a week.

Grilled on the screeching government U-turn, Mr Williamson insisted he was left with no choice after the new mutant strain of Covid swept through swathes of England at lightning speed.

And he hinted that teachers will be put at the front of the queue for the jab – but only after the most vulnerable are inoculated.

He said: “When we look at future waves of a rollout of a vaccine, as you can imagine, as Education Secretary I’ll be wanting to see teachers and all those support staff being up there on that list getting that vaccine.”


Asked directly whether teachers should be prioritised like healthcare workers, the Education Secretary added: “In future waves, obviously, this is a decision that will be made across government.

“It would be great to see more teachers right up there getting the vaccine, but it’s got to be made on clinical judgment as to how best we deal with and beat this virus.”