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Principal of St Vincent’s School shares his thoughts about teachers receiving the vaccine sooner 

Following the Government’s announcement on Monday, Educate has reached out to headteachers and senior leaders to find out how they are feeling about the new lockdown and whether the teaching profession should be given the vaccine sooner. 

We speak to Dr John Pattersonprincipal of St Vincent’s School – a specialist school for sensory impairment and other needs. 

Do you think teachers should be given priority for the COVID-19 vaccine? If so, how would this benefit your school? 

Across government updates and news reports, reference has been made to the ‘battle’ against COVID-19. Decisions on who should be given ‘priority’ for vaccinations rests in this context, on who is and will be in the frontline trenches facing our common enemy, i.e. the virus itself.  

Our quite incredible NHS are ‘hand to hand’ at that front, as are our wonderful Merseyside Police, both put themselves at risk and simultaneously face those who ‘fraternise‘ with the enemy by not keeping to the rules, opening thus new battle fronts.  

Teachers are also part of the frontline. Every teacher can tell you what happens when a child comes into school with an illness and how rapidly it spreads. Every teacher can tell you how at the very least, their first four or five years in school is a continued cycle of illness catching the relentless procession of ‘bugs’ children bring into classrooms. If children can carry coronavirus, and no matter what sanitising measures are in place, just as NHS staff, police officers and ‘people facing’ professions, teachers will catch it and pass it.  

If we value teachers as part of the frontline, keeping the country moving forwards, and in unprecedented times protecting the wellbeing of future generations, the vaccine should be available to them. Certainly, having enough well teachers to teach benefits school… but school exists to serve and give benefit to pupils, parents and together with ‘frontline troops’, our connected communities. 

How do you think schools can function safely in the future? E.g. continual routine testing for all students… 

There is no one hundred per cent safety assurances schools can offer, and we must be real about this. We can, however, do as much as possible by operating common sense, keeping up to speed with the guidance and research, and working collaboratively. Routine testing and sanitisers are all good practice and to be encouraged; we know in the immediate and for the best part what we should be doing. 

As the country looks at the overall impact of the virus and future safety; a way forward would be for future Government offices to have a closer relationship with those groups in the frontline trenches, and listen to them…. we really are the ones who advancing together, have a better view of the barbed wire we face. 

 

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