Get all school staff and nurseries vaccinated over Feb half term so schools can reopen

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We urge the government to implement the proposed plan of vaccinating all school staff (including nurseries) over the February half-term holiday, developed by a coalition of Cognita, Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, and Multi-Academy Trusts AET and OAT. 

This proposal should not be a pre-requisite to opening schools. However, vaccinating school staff (including nurseries) will provide confidence to the school, parents and children that there is protection against Covid and will allow schools to operate without the potential risk of further Covid cases and/or closures. We owe a debt of gratitude to all the school staff (including nurseries) who are teaching children, especially those who are on site looking after vulnerable, special needs and key worker children. School staff (including nurseries) continue to put their lives on the frontline and we therefore must protect them from Covid by ensuring they are vaccinated as a high priority group.  

Children are suffering mentally from being away from school. Online learning does not always work for many children, especially for primary school classes where children cannot yet read or write.

Some children are already half an academic year behind because there was little online learning during the first lockdown. If we continue to keep schools closed until after Easter or even summer, many children will be one academic year or more behind.

In addition, the only way for children to maintain social contact with their school friends is through online contact, mostly gaming. We are creating a generation of potentially anti-social, gaming enthusiasts who are becoming increasingly demotivated to do school work. The addiction to screens is something that will take a long time for children to move away from. 

Online teaching is now the responsibility of parents. Parents are having to spend considerable hours teaching at home. The impact is substantial if you have one child, and more than one is putting parent's mental health at risk. This does not even take into account children who need extra class support but are not special needs.

Consequently, work productivity is greatly impacted and is also placing parent's jobs at risk, especially since company objectives have not changed in light of Covid. In addition to a full day's work, parents are still expected to provide almost a full day's schooling including lunches and snacks. Some parents are getting up at 4.30am to work so they can spend some hours teaching. Parents are burning the midnight oil at both ends.

This situation cannot continue without detrimentally impacting school staff (including nurseries), children, and parents, especially poorer families and those children at risk of abuse at home.