Hundreds of special school staff receive Covid-19 vaccination

Hundreds of special school staff in Calderdale should have received their first COVID-19 vaccination by this week.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 7:00 am

The issue was one of several related to the pandemic which were asked by councillors at February’s full meeting of Calderdale Council.

Coun Sarah Courtney (Lab, Calder) asked whether Cabinet felt staff at special schools were more akin to care workers and should be vaccinated sooner – some local authorities had prioritised them, and she wondered if there were plans for Calderdale to do the same.

Cabinet member for Children and Young People’s Services, Coun Adam Wilkinson said it was an issue he was very interested in and it was important to recognise special schools were still fully open.

Special school staff in Calderdale should have received their first COVID-19 vaccination

“We have looked into what we can do within the powers we possess to get special school staff vaccinated,” he said.

Coun Wilkinson (Lab, Sowerby Bridge) said this had already happened where staff worked with clinically extremely vulnerable children, more scheduled for those who worked with children who were shielding, and around 300 more added to reserve lists with the expectation that there was enough vaccine to inoculate them by this week.

Coun Colin Hutchinson (Lab, Skircoat) asked about isolation payments, or lack of them, which were made to people so they could isolate if advised to do so.

Leader of the Council, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said this was raised in a number of regular meetings and seminars.

It was important because if people could not be persuaded to isolate it was harder to get on top of the virus and it was frustrating that senior civil servants and even some ministers understood the point but had not moved on the issue.

Around 70 per cent of people who applied were deemed not eligible for the Government grant, said Coun Swift, and it was not reasonable to expect those in low paid jobs with no sick pay to do so without financial help.

The Government had made an additional £15 million available nationally for mandatory grants but did not top up discretionary grants.

The council had managed to find an extra £200,000 from its infection control plan to give extra help and flexibility, said Coun Swift.

Compared to sums given out in, for example, business grants, the amount needed was small but so important, he said.

Coun Susan Press (Lab, Todmorden) asked if the Government had lived up to its promise to do “whatever it took” to help councils with costs and losses of income in the pandemic.

Cabinet member for Resources, Coun Silvia Dacre (Lab, Todmorden) said: “The short answer is ‘no’.”