The union that represents special needs assistants (SNAs) said SNAs would feel let down by the reported change in Government Covid-19 vaccination policy, which had promised to ensure they would be within the first 30% of the population to receive the jab. Fórsa said SNAs and other staff had recently returned to schools on the basis that they would be vaccinated as soon as possible.
SNAs work alongside vulnerable students in situations where social distancing is impossible.
The union said SNAs work alongside vulnerable students in situations where social distancing is impossible. This means they are at higher risk of contracting the virus than most other groups. Covid cases in schools are rising in line with community transmission, leaving SNAs – particularly those with high-risk medical conditions – anxious about the new delay in vaccine availability.
Fórsa is calling on the Government to honour its promise to prioritise essential schools’ staff including SNAs.
Fórsa’s head of education, Andy Pike, said: “SNAs did their bit to ensure that schools opened up from 11th February on the basis that, among other safeguards, they would be prioritised for vaccines. Today’s about-face by the Government means that many thousands will now wait even longer for the protection that only a vaccination can bring. As a minimum, Fórsa is calling on the Government to honour its promise to prioritise essential schools’ staff including SNAs.”
The union said the unwelcome change of approach would not directly impact on the planned expansion of schools’ reopening on 12th April. This is because schools’ staff had not been scheduled for vaccination before that date.