Councillors call for COVID-19 vaccine for teachers and school staff

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A group of councillors have called on all teachers and school staff to have priority access to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccine.

At last night’s full council meeting, Labour Councillors extended thanks to all involved in keeping children in education during the pandemic and pressed for those frontline staff to be among the first to be protected by the vaccine.

Cllr Nesreen Akhtar (Queen’s Park Ward) asked how schools had dealt with the uncertainty of reopening after the Christmas break.

Councillor James Valentine (Kempston West Ward), Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services and Education, criticised the delay in decision making that led to some schools reopening for just one day on Monday 4th January only to close the following day as England went into full lockdown.

He said: “As things have turned out, attendance of key worker children has been far higher than during the last lockdown to the point that headteachers and governors have concerns about keeping children safe.

“But instead of allowing school leaders the discretion to prioritise entry, they have been told there are to be no restrictions whatsoever.”

Cllr Valentine referred to the government’s insistence that keeping schools open was a priority.

“But if we want to keep schools open, we should protect all the adults – that’s to say, teachers and school support staff – who work there, and make them a priority to receive the vaccine.”

Cllr Akhtar said: “I wish to offer, and I’m sure the Council will agree with me, my heartfelt thanks to all the teachers, school support staff and council officers who are working so hard to keep schools thriving places for our children, and for all their efforts in developing remote learning.”

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