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Teaching union calls for education staff to be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine


Protection call: NASUWT national official Justin McCamphill

Protection call: NASUWT national official Justin McCamphill

Protection call: NASUWT national official Justin McCamphill

A leading teachers' union has called on all education staff to be prioritised for the coronavirus vaccination to help get children back into the classroom as quickly and safety as possible.

The NASUWT said it was "in the national interest" for teachers to be at the head of the queue to receive the vaccination and has written to both the Health Minister and the Education Minister to press their case.

Schools have entered another period of remote learning, with most pupils to receive home schooling until the half term break in February at the earliest.

The union said it is essential both to help protect teachers and their pupils but to allow the country to move to a situation where children are back in schools and colleges, minimising the disruption to their education.

The NASUWT has presented evidence showing that rates of virus prevalence amongst school staff is between three and four times higher than for adults generally.

NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: "Teachers and education staff are unable to practice social distancing from their pupils and few are provided with essential PPE as part of their day-to-day roles.

"With provision for younger age children and for children with special and additional learning needs, it is clear that there are additional risks present which are comparable to those that in health and social care."

"We have seen too much disruption to children's education.

"Whilst teachers are doing everything that is being asked of them, they also deserve the same levels of protection."

Education Minister Peter Weir has already said he would support the call for teachers to receive vaccinations as quickly as possible, but any change to the current vaccination roll-out was out of his and the Health Minister's hands.

"It would be helpful if that was made a priority, but the decision on who is vaccinated and when is made centrally between the four nations; it's not a call I or Health Minister Robin Swann can make," he said.

NASUWT national official for Northern Ireland, Justin McCamphill said staff who are still working face to face with pupils need to be protected.

"It is in the interest of wider public health that all teachers and education staff are prioritised in the roll-out of the coronavirus vaccines," he said. "It is particularly important for staff in special schools and those working face-to-face with young people and children right now."

Belfast Telegraph