Zahawi pushes student Covid jabs as virus cases soar

Education secretary writes open letter to parents on the importance of Covid vaccinations and testing for school students

Catherine Lough

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi is encouraging Covid vaccination for school students

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi has written a letter, alongside health secretary Sajid Javid, calling for parents to "encourage" secondary-age students to have regular Covid-19 tests and get vaccinated. 

The intervention comes as an estimated one in 15 secondary school students has Covid, and as cases of the virus in schools have soared.

Only 9 per cent of 12- to 15-year-olds have had a Covid vaccination, according to the latest figures.

In the letter, Mr Zahawi and Mr Javid say that "children and young people have been hugely affected by the pandemic" and thank parents for their support.

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The letter adds that in order to help students "stay in face-to-face learning", parents can help by encouraging them to test themselves for Covid-19 twice a week, or more frequently if they are asked to do so.

And it says that parents should also encourage children to "come forward for the Covid-19 vaccine".

Nadhim Zahawi: Parents should encourage students to get Covid vaccine

"This is one of the best things young people can do to protect themselves and those around them," it says.

"We know that students have missed a lot of time in school and college since the pandemic started, and that there is no substitute for face-to-face learning.

"Keeping students in the classroom in the coming months is therefore a government priority, both for their immediate and longer-term wellbeing.

"We know that some of you will be concerned about the health risks to the young people you care for.

"We want to reassure you that the evidence shows that young people remain at very low risk of serious illness from Covid-19."

Recent reports suggest that students at over two-thirds of schools are still waiting for their Covid vaccinations, as health teams are unable to cope with the demand.

Last week, government data showed that over 200,000 pupils were off school for Covid-related reasons during the previous week.

Mr Zahawi has said that the government “won’t stand back and let attendance fall”, and has asked Ofsted to carry out a "deep dive into absenteeism", which he fears has become persistent, in some cases, since the pandemic started.

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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