Robert Halfon says ‘prioritise teachers for vaccine’ in wake of school closures

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Robert Halfon says ‘prioritise teachers for vaccine’ in wake of school closures

Tory MP Halfon, who chairs the House of Commons education committee, said he understands government decision but added 'we can’t continue to damage the life chances of children'

Tory MP Robert Halfon has called on teachers to be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine
Tory MP Robert Halfon has called on teachers to be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine

Tory MP Robert Halfon has called for teachers to be made a priority for vaccinations against Covid-19.

Halfon, who chairs the House of Commons education committee, told BBC Breakfast: “What I also want to see is teachers, especially now that we’ve got the Oxford vaccine, that teachers and support staff are made an absolute priority for vaccinations because if we can make sure that they’re vaccinated and they’re safe, it’s less likely that schools will have to close.

“This two weeks has to mean two weeks – schools can’t just be a revolving door that never stands still, open one day, shut the next, because it’s very damaging to the life chances of these pupils.”

Discussing the rollout of testing in schools, he said: “If we can roll all that out and two weeks really means two weeks, then perhaps I can understand the decision that has been made, but we can’t continue to damage the life chances of children.

“We know that remote learning, whatever the efforts of teachers and schools, is sometimes quite patchy.

“We know that millions of children had barely any learning in the last lockdown and there is no substitute, no substitute at all for being at school.”

His comments came as the government yesterday announced a swathe of primary schools in areas where coronavirus rates are soaring would not reopen until at least January 18.

Among them are a large number of Jewish primary schools located in the London boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Enfield and Redbridge, as well as Hertsmere in Hertfordshire.

Many primary schools were due to return for the spring term on Monday, but will now open only for vulnerable children or those with keyworker parents.

Secondary schools meanwhile throughout England face a staggered return, with students in exam years returning first on January 11.

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