A head teacher has said she is “delighted” that a date has been set for schools to fully reopen - but feels teachers would be “more comfortable if they had a vaccine in their arm”.

All schools and colleges in England will be able to reopen on March 8 as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown, with outdoor after-school sports and activities also allowed to restart.

Lara Péchard, head at independent day and boarding school St Margaret’s in Bushey, says the school has the facilities in place to carry out testing "safely" in advance of everyone returning.

And while she is happy that there is now a date in mind for schools to reopen, she feels it would “make a difference” if teachers are vaccinated first.

She said: “I like many others, saw the benefit in teachers getting vaccinations early. The government has quite rightly put a big push on getting schools open again but it is quite hard to have these conversations with teachers if those vaccinations aren’t coming through in time.  The anxiety is understandable. 

“The argument that you are potentially taking the vaccine from someone who is more vulnerable is a tricky one and I wouldn’t want to be the one making that decision. 

Hillingdon Times: Lara PéchardLara Péchard

“But there is a real balance here, our teachers are going to be teaching hundreds of children face to face and I know most of them would feel more comfortable if they had a vaccine in their arm.”

Ms Péchard added that for teachers there are ‘two hats’ in play when returning to the classroom.

She felt that while teachers will feel a “great sense of responsibility to be doing the day job and to be doing it well”, she said there is an “anxiety” amongst the teaching community in returning.

She said: “Teachers are part of families themselves and the whole anxiety surrounding the community coming back together is completely understandable.

“As a school, I am very keen to ensure we are protecting the vulnerable and I can foresee, for a few weeks at least, that there will be a need to protect certain members of staff by keeping a remote aspect of learning going.”

But Ms Péchard welcomed the return of schools saying: “I am delighted that there is now a fixed date in mind for our return to school.  Most parents will be very keen for their children to get back into the classroom and to regain some semblance of normality. 

"Even though remote learning for this generation has been a privilege for many, there is also a level of monotony about being at home 24/7, especially for teens who will benefit physically from being in a different space and away from the intensity of the family home.”

On Sunday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock again rejected calls for teachers to be given priority in the vaccine queue before schools return.

He told Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “There isn’t strong evidence that teachers are more likely to catch Covid than any other group, but I’ll leave it for the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to set out what they think is the best order in which to do this that minimises the number of deaths.”