The family of a Burnley teacher with no known underlying health conditions who died from coronavirus is urging the Government to fast track vaccinating school staff against the deadly virus.
Inspirational teacher Donna Coleman passed away on January 6 at the age of just 42 after coronavirus made her seriously ill.
This week, family and friends lined the streets as Donna, who taught at Burnley College, was laid to rest.
And now, sister Vicki Coleman is demanding teachers like Donna are given the Covid-19 vaccine urgently to stop similar tragedies happening to other families.
She is asking why the Government has not issued a promise on this yet when teachers are front line workers, still in schools across the country despite national lockdown in order to provide teaching for key worker kids and vulnerable children.
"We need teachers to be vaccinated as soon as possible,” Vicky, 45, told the Mirror.
"Donna told me in September that she was scared. Don’t get me wrong, she wanted to go back - she loved her job - but she said staff members were terrified."
When Donna died from Covid-19, he had no known underlying health conditions.
Vicki said: "If schools and colleges had closed earlier, we wouldn’t be having this conversation."
Donna was admitted to Royal Blackburn Hospital on December 29 after suffering from breathing problems. Three days later, she messaged Vicki promising to FaceTime her on the following day.
But "the call never came", Vicki said, with Donna already placed on a ventilator by that point.
Vicky said: “She had messaged friends asking them to look after her family, so she must have been scared.
"My dad and sister went to see her and came home looking shocked, saying, ‘she’s not coming out of this’.
"I went the next day, I held her hand, I said goodbye. That wasn’t Donna, she wasn’t there, she’d gone."
Donna, or DC to friends, was well liked respected for her impact on children's education.
"This lady changed my son's life," one parent said in an online tribute.
Donna leaves behind siblings, Vicki, Dan and Steph, her loving parents, and six-year-old Amalee, the daughter of one of her closest friends. When Amalee’s mother passed away aged 37, Donna became like a second mum.
We still don’t know how many teaching staff have died during the coronavirus pandemic. Inexplicably, the data has not been reported since June, when the Office for National Statistics data showed 90 teachers and support staff had died between 9 March and 25 May.
During much of this period, most schools were only open to the children of key workers. On Wednesday, the ONS said it will give new data on Monday that will include teaching staff.
According to figures from the Department for Education, on December 16, 4.4% of teachers and school leaders were off work because they were sick with Covid, had suspected Covid or were self-isolating. In special schools these figures were twice as high.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is currently deciding which groups will next receive the vaccine.
Our sister title the Mirror is calling for teaching and support staff to be vaccinated as a top priority with other key workers.
To donate funds in Donna's memory, click here
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