Esther McVey wants schools to reopen is urging Government to decide if teachers can be prioritised for vaccines to get children back into the classroom.
The Tatton MP said offering teachers the Covid vaccine after the most vulnerable have had their first jabs, could see schools fully open again within weeks.
She said Government and its scientific advisers needed to have that discussion now to offer clarity to both parents, teachers and students.
Ms McVey said: “It is vital schools reopen and if vaccinating teachers, after the most vulnerable vaccinated, can make that happen, then teachers should be offered the vaccine. You cannot close schools and not have a workable alternative for the nation’s children.
“We genuinely seem to have forgotten about school children. Millions of them are missing out on an education, not developing socially with their friends and are not allowed to enrich their lives by playing sports and music anymore. They are the pandemic’s forgotten victims and we’ve got to start thinking about their prospects and futures as well. We have a duty to provide a decent education and education is the great equaliser and I believe in social mobility and want every child to succeed and achieve their best.”
If teachers and teaching staff were given the first dose of the vaccine within two weeks they would have significant immunity from Covid-19.
Ms McVey fears keeping children out of school is widening the gap between rich and poor and is damaging a generation of young people. She has been campaigning for more laptops for school children with no computer access but has repeatedly warned internet provision and cost for those with no WIFI is a significant problem.
She said: “I have repeatedly told Government we must deliver on our commitment to 1gb capacity by 2025 and end the division in provision across the country. Never has it been so important as in this pandemic when everything moved online. We cannot create a further divide in this country and have a digital divide. Too many people are struggling with poor connections or access to WIFI, whether it be due to location or the cost and therefore groups of children are missing out through no fault of their own and it is not acceptable. Children need to be at school in a normal learning environment.”
Ms McVey is among a group of Conservative MPs supporting a campaign by parent pressure group UsforThem to fully reopen schools.