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Vaccinate our teachers before schools re-open – council boss

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The borough’s education chief today called for all teachers and school staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19 before schools re-open.

Councillor Ruth Buttery said the best place for children to be was in the classroom, and that a vaccination programme targeting teachers and teaching assistants would “ease the anxiety and uncertainty” for both parents and staff.

Vaccinations are currently being administered in line with guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), with current priority given to the most vulnerable in the borough. They are care home residents and their carers; the over 80s and frontline health and social care workers; over 75s and over 70s along with those classed as extremely vulnerable individuals.

Councillor Buttery said she would be doing all she could to get school staff added to the priority list, including writing to borough MPs urging them to take up the case at Westminster and also penning a direct plea to JCVI bosses.

Councillor Ruth Buttery, cabinet member for children and young people, said:

I am firmly of the view that the best place for children to be is in school.
I would like to personally thank teachers and staff for the incredible work they have put in, not having holidays and working through the Christmas period to try and ensure schools could open this week. Sadly, it proved in vain.
Following last night’s announcement, what I am pushing strongly for now is for all teachers and teaching assistants in the borough to be vaccinated over the coming weeks.
We need to ease the anxiety and uncertainty for parents and staff, so schools can hopefully re-open after the February half-term break.
I will be lobbying our MPs to take our case to Parliament and do all I can to try and make this happen. We absolutely need to make sure the most vulnerable in our society are protected from the virus, but I feel strongly that teachers and teaching assistants should be classed as key frontline workers and added to the priority list.
In the meantime we are working with secondary and special schools to put lateral flow testing in place so all pupils can be tested on their return, and it remains really important that families continue to follow the hands, face space advice.
We want children to be in school and learning but we need to ensure that happens in a safe environment.

Meanwhile, crossing patrols are being stood down while schools remain shut during the latest lockdown.

Vulnerable children, or those with parents who are classed as key workers are still able to go into school. But council bosses say based on previous experience, almost all will be taken in by car and dropped off safely inside the school gates.

With traffic also low following government guidance to stay inside unless absolutely necessary, chiefs have taken the decision to protect the patrols and reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Staff will remain in contact with schools to reopen crossing patrol sites where possible though, if there is demand to do so.

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