Dozens of school leaders have urged the Government to vaccinate all teachers as they supported plans for children to return to the classroom from March.
Some 135 headteachers, mostly from independent schools, signed a letter calling for staff from all educational settings to be vaccinated.
They said they were heartened by the progress of the vaccination programme and encouraged that the Government’s target of 15 million first doses by February 15 is “likely to be reached”.
In the letter, coordinated by William Goldsmith, headmaster of St George’s School Windsor Castle, they said: “This is saving lives, bringing light to a dark period for many and giving hope that pupils will be back in their schools without any further delay.
“To support this mission, we urge the Government to vaccinate all teachers and school staff, along with other priority groups of workers.
“The emotional and social wellbeing of young people is a significant concern to us, and every day we see the need for pupils to be in school; with each hour that passes the need to be back with their peers and teachers grows stronger.
“Teachers have demonstrated that they are ready for the challenge ahead; without neglecting anyone’s safety, reopening schools from March 8 should be the priority under any circumstance.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted that it is “prudent” to stick to the planned March 8 opening date for schools in England, stating that the proposed date was three weeks after the most vulnerable should have been vaccinated.