Special needs education staff ‘urgently’ need vaccine | #specialneeds | #kids

The body representing Catholic primary schools has written to the Minister for Health warning of the possibility of the forced closure of schools and classes catering for children with disabilities unless teachers and other staff working with those children are vaccinated as soon as possible. 

In a letter to Stephen Donnelly, the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (CPMSA) has urged him to prioritise the early vaccination of staff working in special schools and special classes attached to mainstream primary schools to ensure they can continue to deliver face-to-face education. 

The CPSMA said these workers are “in many cases performing the same type of work and are exposed to the same type of Covid-19 risks as frontline health workers. 

“Many assist with the intimate care needs of pupils and in all cases such staff work in close proximity with children who have little or no understanding of the concept of social distancing.” 

School staff are in cohort 11 out of the 15 listed in the vaccine roll-out programme. Those in cohort 4 are currently receiving their Covid-19 jabs.

The CPSMA said that special needs staff were the first to return to face-to-face education this year. “It should surely follow that staff in these settings are prioritised for vaccination as a matter of urgency.” 

It has told the minister that as a result of Covid-19 many special schools and special classes are encountering acute difficulties sourcing substitute staff.

“It is vital that all staff are vaccinated to reduce the demand for substitutes, or we will assuredly face the forced closure of special schools and special classes in the not too distant future”, the letter states.

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