Commenting on the Education Policy Institute’s research
about Covid-related teacher and pupil absences in the autumn term, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
“It is very worrying to see research which suggests that teachers are at greater risk of contracting coronavirus than the wider population, and there is clearly a moral imperative to prioritise the education workforce for vaccinations.
“Schools and colleges have worked extremely hard to create environments which are as safe as possible, but the reality is that, when fully open, they are inherently busy and crowded places, and high infection rates in the wider community inevitably mean more risk.
“The government must commit to prioritising education workers in the next phase of the vaccination programme and it must set out a clear timetable. In particular, it must prioritise staff in specialist settings whose roles are often akin to those of care workers.
“This is essential, first and foremost, in protecting the health and wellbeing of staff, but it will also have the benefit of reducing some of the disruption that made the autumn term so incredibly difficult.
“While schools are partially closed, the government must take the opportunity to review its existing safety guidance for schools to ensure its policies are sufficient in tackling the new and more infectious form of the virus that is now prevalent. And it must sort out the mess it has made of implementing a programme of rapid turnaround mass testing by reviewing the logistical arrangements and providing clear public health information.”