Independent schools eager to help in vaccination roll-out

“We have a ready-made infrastructure to help with this huge logistical problem,” said the head of an independent school in Surrey

Several independent schools have voiced their eagerness to help in the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The schools have offered to use their resources to set up as vaccination centres during England’s third national lockdown, where schools are closed to most pupils.

Shaun Fenton, headmaster of Reigate Grammar School in Surrey, said on Twitter: “Where do we apply to offer our school as a vaccine distribution hub for the local community, whilst in lockdown? We can staff it, we have fridges, we have the space and facilities – how do we become part of the solution? We want to help.”

The ambition set out by the Government is to vaccinate all the over-70s, the most clinically vulnerable and front-line health and care workers by mid-February, which will require around 13 million vaccinations.

We are keen to help and hope we will be part of this as the programme scales up – Shaun Fenton, Reigate Grammar School

Other school leaders such as Vicky Bingham, head of South Hampstead High School and Irfan Latif, principal of DLD College London, have shown their support for the idea with their own schools.

Fenton reached out to his local NHS to tell them the school has the space, parking, staff and fridges to be a vaccination centre during lockdown, to which he said he received a “warm response”.

“It seems that there may still be a bottleneck with supply of vaccines rather than a shortage of vaccination centres and this week the roll-out is via hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and the preparation for massive sites as sports stadia,” said Fenton. “However, I remain in contact with the vaccination lead for the local area and am hopeful that we can play our part.

“There are schools in every community and we have facilities as well as staff on furlough so we have a ready-made infrastructure to help with this huge logistical problem. We are keen to help and hope we will be part of this as the programme scales up.”

Covid-19 vaccine for school staff

Fenton is one of the thousands of people that have signed a petition to prioritise teachers, school and childcare staff in receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

Sally-Anne Huang, high master of St Paul’s School, is another independent school head to have signed the petition, saying on Twitter: “I am on Day 20 of my Covid journey. Still totally exhausted but it could have been worse. If teachers are to be put back on the front line again, then they should have access to the vaccine.”

Parliament will debate the petition, which has more than 348,500 signatures, on 11 January.

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10 March 2021, 11am GMT