TRIBUTES have been paid to an “inspirational” secondary school teacher who died of coronavirus two days after Christmas.
Paul Hilditch, 55, died in hospital on December 27, two weeks after first being treated for Covid.
Secondary school teacher Paul Hilditch, 55, died in hospital after falling ill with coronavirusCredit: Evening Gazette
Mr Hilditch is pictured with his daughter Camille in 2018Credit: Facebook
Parents, pupils and teachers spoke of their sadness at the death of Mr Hilditch, who taught engineering and technology at Conyers School in Yarm, on Teesside.
Unions say his death shows the risk teachers face at work.
It comes as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said teachers aren’t an immediate priority to receive a vaccine, but he wanted them to be moved up the list in “future waves” of a rollout.
With cases surging across Britain, millions of secondary school pupils will see the start of term delayed by a fortnight to January 18.
The parents of one pupil at Mr Hilditch’s school said: “My son really took to him and the way he taught – despite having only been taught by him since September.
“Absolutely heartbreaking, thoughts and love to his family.”
And another wrote: “Such a terrible loss. My daughter thought he was a great teacher. My thoughts go out to his family.”
Parents and pupils have paid tribute to the secondary school teacher, who died two days after ChristmasCredit: Evening Gazette
A shocked pupil said: “No way I’m reading this, he was one the best teachers in there. Rest in peace.”
Conyers headteacher, Louise Spellman, said they were “deeply saddened” at the sudden loss of their colleague and friend.
Mr Hilditch taught engineering and technology at Conyers for four years and was “a truly dedicated, caring and well-loved member of staff”, Ms Spellman said.
Mr Hilditch was an engineering and technology teacher at ConyersCredit: Alamy
Almost 1,000 more deaths were recorded yesterday
She said: “Paul was a fantastic teacher who thought so much of his students and really gave his all to ensure they achieved their best.
“He was a true inspiration to many and, for our students, he worked tirelessly to ensure their success.
“His passion for electronics in particular has had a powerful impact on our students, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in engineering.
“Paul loved our school and our students: he will be remembered as a kind, devoted and truly brilliant teacher.
“All of our thoughts and prayers are with Paul’s friends and family at this time.”
Paul loved our school and our students: he will be remembered as a kind, devoted and truly brilliant teacher
Conyers headteacher, Louise Spellman
Ms Spellman said services would be on hand to support students and staff and a book of condolence was being set up which would be shared with Mr Hilditch’s family.
Another 50,023 more cases were diagnosed with as the disease rips across the UK.
Schoolkids in the worst-hit Covid areas in the country will stay home for at least an extra two weeks after the Christmas holidays, it was confirmed by the government this week.
Thousands of schools in 49 hardest-hit Covid areas will remain closed because of spiralling cases – except for vulnerable kids and children of key workers.
Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT, urged the government to prioritise vaccinating teachers and school staff.
He said: “It has been abundantly clear throughout the autumn term that the pandemic is seriously impacting on the ability of all schools to continue to operate normally and safely.
“‘Risk assessment measures must be urgently reviewed and updated in light of the new dangers that have been identified by the Government.”
Earlier today, Education Secretary Mr Williamson told Sky News: “I think we all recognise where the first vaccines need to go, to those who are most likely to lose their lives as a result of catching Covid.
“When we look at future waves of a rollout of a vaccine… as you can imagine, as Education Secretary I’ll be wanting to see teachers and all those support staff being up there on that list getting that vaccine.”
School pupils will have their return delayed in the worst Covid hotspotsCredit: AFP – Getty
Gavin Williamson said he wants teachers to be getting the vaccine in “future waves” of a rolloutCredit: Rex Features
Boris has said schools could have to stay shut longer than the two weeks plannedCredit: PA:Press Association