‘Playing hokey-cokey with pupils’ lives now bigger risk than Covid’

·2-min read
This year’s most popular A-level subject was maths (David Davies/PA) (PA Wire)
This year’s most popular A-level subject was maths (David Davies/PA) (PA Wire)

Closing schools because of rising Covid infections is akin to playing “hokey-cokey” with a generation of young people’s lives, a leading head has warned.

Being regularly “in then out” of school puts children and their education at risk, Alun Ebenezer, head of Fulham Boys’ School said. It comes as schools are preparing to teach students about the safety of vaccines in a bid to boost uptake of the jabs among teenagers.

There are concerns that a surge in Covid infections will hit schools as they reopen from this week, leading to tougher Covid measures being reintroduced and significant disruption to learning by the end of September.

Mr Ebenezer admitted he is concerned about a rise in Covid cases but said it is “vital” that schools stay open. He added: “Covid is here to stay it would seem so it cannot be about removing the risk, just assessing it and managing it.

“On balance the biggest risk is to play hokey-cokey with this generation of young people and their schooling, where they are in then out, then in then out. We’ve just got to get on with it now.”

The Department of Health and Social Care has produced a toolkit to boost vaccine uptake for young people and councils are sharing the material with schools to boost jab uptake.

It includes a video explaining why it is important to be vaccinated, featuring actor Jason Forbes tackling some common myths about the vaccine.

Jan Balon, head of London Academy of Excellence Tottenham, said the school will work with Haringey Public Health to give information to students in tutor time and assemblies to support vaccine take-up. He said: “We haven’t seen hesitancy yet but we’re mindful that vaccination rates in the local community are relatively low and therefore we’ll be proactive.”

It comes after an expert said opening windows between classes could be a good way of reducing the risk of virus spread in schools,

Professor Tim Sharpe, a member of the Environmental Modelling Group, told BBC Breakfast: “It is one of a number of measures which you need to use in parallel, but making sure that spaces are well-ventilated is a good way of reducing that risk.”

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