Covid: Union calls for Jersey teachers' priority in vaccine roll-out

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Jersey schools reopened to pupils after the Christmas break on 11 January

A teaching union has called on Jersey's government to prioritise teachers in the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.

NASUWT said staff were "at high risk" of catching the virus and it was in the island's "national interest" to see them vaccinated.

The union has made repeated calls for schools to switch to remote learning.

The government said it would prioritise islanders based on "risk of mortality", which it said was "very different" to a "position of increased transmission".

General Secretary of the NASUWT, Patrick Roach, said teachers and support staff in Jersey were "unable to practice social distancing" in classrooms and "few are provided with essential PPE".

He said these increased risks meant staff should be prioritised for the vaccine alongside frontline healthcare workers.

'Tougher control measures'

Jersey's union representative, Marina Mauger, said: "Whilst teachers are doing everything that is being asked of them, they also deserve the same levels of protection in the face of this highly deadly and highly contagious virus.

"This means that tougher control measures will be needed to ensure workplace safety, together with priority roll out of the coronavirus vaccines to all frontline education staff in order to minimise further disruption to children's education."

More than 80% of secondary pupils returned to Jersey's schools on Monday, with more than 90% of primary school pupils returning after the Christmas break.

The government said "there is a concern that teachers are in a position of increased transmission", but this was "very different to the increased risk of mortality which our vaccination programme is based upon".

"Without mitigation factors, many sectors of islanders could be classed as being at increased risk of transmission," a spokesperson said.

"This is why island-wide restrictions and public health measures have been introduced," they added.

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