Call for teaching staff to be vaccinated due to rising virus rates and pupil numbers

Teacher in class

People are being encouraged to keep children at home if they can, due to rising pupil numbers and virus rates. - Credit: Pixabay

Schools in Weston have seen a huge increase pupil numbers, prompting calls for teachers to be vaccinated as a high priority. 

With the latest lockdown, the Department for Education widened the categories of vulnerable and key worker pupils to include students who cannot access remote learning or do not have devices or space to study. 

However, on Friday, the Government updated its guidance for critical workers and advised parents of children who are eligible for a school place that they should keep them at home if at all possible. 

Extend Learning Academies Network (ELAN), which includes eight primary schools across and Weston, Worle and Locking, is providing places for around 480 pupils, compared to around 150 in the previous two lockdowns. 

Schools across England have reported similar rises with attendance rates reaching 50 per cent in some areas, leading to concerns the lockdown will not have the desired effect.

Education leaders are calling for teaching staff, along with all critical workers, to be given the vaccine as a priority.

Jonathan Reddiford, branch secretary for North Somerset NEU, said: “There are far more students in schools than in March lockdown, yet the virus seems even more prevalent than then.   

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“We are therefore very concerned that this lockdown won't have the impact needed, and may drag on for longer than the government wishes. 

“We do think school staff should be vaccinated as a priority to help get schools back.” 

Schools are working exceptionally hard to teach children in class, as well as at home, while also supporting families through the lockdown. 

Adam Matthews, chief executive of ELAN, said: “Government expectations are significantly different to lockdown one, as a result we are working significantly differently and have adjusted how we work and where we work to meet these demands.   

“All our staff are working incredibly hard to provide the best for our children and have moved mountains over the past week to meet the challenges thrown up by the government’s decision to lockdown, without giving schools any prior notice.

“Parents and communities have been amazing, their support as the situation changed and a raft of communications headed their way was most welcome."

Mr Matthews said he expected the next few weeks to be 'challenging' as mass remote learning is rolled out.

Speaking about rising virus rates he added: “Staff are naturally concerned because the situation nationally is escalating, exponentially in some regions.

“However, we continually review risk assessments and health and safety provision/procedures in our schools to ensure all sites remain as safe as possible for children and staff which does reassure colleagues.” 

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