On the day that the death toll for Covid exceeded 100,000, Michael Fabricant says “Caution should be exercised when setting the opening date for schools. While I recognise the educational cost and mental strain the closure of schools is having on children and their parents, it would be foolhardy to set artificial deadlines for the reopening of schools in this pandemic. I also believe that teachers and other adult staff at schools should be vaccinated against Covid to prevent contagion spreading.”
In a statement made in the House of Commons today (26th January 2021) by the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, Michael Fabricant asked:
“Contrary to the general mood of this urgent question so far, can I just point out that today is a day where we have surpassed 100,000 deaths in the United Kingdom due to Covid. 37,000 people are currently in hospital for Covid, and now is not the time to set arbitrary deadlines for the opening of schools, or set arbitrary targets which means that schools can then be opened. We must go by the medical advice.
“And in connection with that, may I ask the Minister; does he not think it’s a good idea if we were to vaccinate everyone who is an adult who works in school sooner rather than later, to stop public transmission of Covid?”
Nick Gibb answered: “My Honourable Friend is quite right to point to that very tragic milestone, and the thoughts of everyone in this House are with the families and friends of people that we have lost during this Covid pandemic.
“He is right therefore to point out that there are 37,000 people in our hospitals at the moment with this virus, which is higher than it was at the peak of the virus last year. And that’s why we have to take these decisions about the national lockdown very seriously, and we have to rely on the advice of SAGE, the Joint Biosecurity Centre and Public Health England, and we have to look at the pressure on the NHS when reaching those decisions.
“He is also right to point to the issue of vaccines; the priority initially is on mortality, which means that they focus on age, where the rates of mortality are higher, but once we are through that Phase 1, then we will be looking at occupations, and the Department for Education will certainly be making the case to the Department of Health for staff in the education sector.”