A teacher and students practice social distancing to help curb the spread of the coronavirus in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on Monday. AP
The United Nations agency for education, UNESCO, on Monday called on governments to give teachers priority access to the new COVID-19 vaccines and be treated like “frontline” workers.
The call came as the United States, the country worst hit by the virus, kickstarted the biggest vaccination drive in its history by giving the jab to a nurse in New York.
“As we see positive developments regarding vaccination we believe that teachers and education support personnel must be considered a priority group,” UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay said in a joint video message with the head of the Education International (EI) teachers’ organisation, David Edwards.
A healthcare worker collects a blood sample from a teacher at a school in Baghdad. Reuters
Azoulay and Edwards said when schools and other education facilities were closed to prevent the spread of the virus, “teachers and support personnel remained on the frontline.”
As classes moved online they “reinvented the way we teach, we learn,” they said, adding that when schools reopened, teachers returned “courageously” to the classroom.
Stressing that schools are “irreplaceable” Paris-based UNESCO and Brussels-based EI called for teachers to be among the first in line to be inoculated.
Member states are struggling to contain a third wave of the epidemic and kick-start vaccine programmes slowed by a shortfall in deliveries, and Britain has warned the bloc against resorting "vaccine nationalism."
The fresh suspensions were a major blow to a global immunisation campaign that experts hope will help end a year-long pandemic that has already killed over 2.6 million people and decimated the global economy.
The announcement comes as the Ministry of Health and Prevention on Sunday expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility in line with the UAE's proactive policy to ensure the health and safety of all community members.
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The leaders vowed that Russian President Vladimir Putin and those responsible would be held to account for Monday's strike in the city of Kremenchuk, carried out during the shopping mall's busiest hours.
The attacks shattered apartment buildings, video footage showed. The blast gouged a vast crater in front of the school, with debris strewn about classrooms, their windows all blown out.