Alex Hegenbarth, Parliamentary Spokesperson for the Tewkesbury Liberal Democrats, calls on local MP Laurence Robertson to support their bid to see local teachers prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine.
Alex has written to Tewkesbury's MP expressing the concerns teachers, pupils, and local families have regarding the public health risk when schools eventually reopen.
Alex said "Closing schools was a necessary decision for the sake of public health, but home-schooling experiences in these times will never be able to replace the standard set by professional educators. Young people face a lack of suitable equipment and workspaces, key mental health support and access to learning resources - which serve as barriers to their long term success.
"It is clear that schools need to return to normal as soon as it is safe to do so. To do that, teachers need to be included in a priority group for Covid-19 vaccinations."
You can read Alex's letter to Tewkesbury's MP, Laurence Robertson, below.
I’m writing to you to reflect the concerns of local teachers and families over the government’s approach to Covid-19 in schools. It seems that the decision to close schools to most pupils was regrettable but necessary in the circumstances, though I hope the government will learn lessons from the way school closures were handled.
The chaotic decision-making process caused stress and anxiety for many teachers, parents and children at a time when so many are already struggling with their mental health.
I understand that teachers, who are overburdened at the best of times, are currently feeling hugely undervalued. Meanwhile, children are suffering too, whether they are missing their friends, missing out on sport, or lacking an adequate daily routine.
Throughout the course of this lockdown and after, there will be an increasing need for more mental health provision in schools and for young people in general. You will have doubtless heard the same disturbing stories as me.
I urge you to take this matter to the government and secure more resources.
Every day of education lost for any child is hugely difficult to overcome, but the impact in these circumstances will be even harder to recover from. However, there are also matters relating to equality.
While many children will have homes equipped with computers and books, many in our area will not. Furthermore, and perhaps even more concerning, many children are reliant on school attendance to receive a daily nutritious meal.
Given the dire need to return schools to normal operations as soon as possible, I, therefore, request that you also make representations to the government to place teachers in a priority group for vaccinations. It is vital that teachers are able to have confidence in the system and peace of mind for their own health, as well as the ability to feel they can do their jobs safely without putting others at risk.
I know the National Education Union and other groups representing teachers have made reasonable representations on these matters.
I hope you will work with them on practical solutions to the problems we all face.