Hemel teacher says he quit job he loved after opposing school lockdowns, student masks and vaccines

The school's headteacher says Longdean provided a home delivery service of work and materials to students during lockdown

By Holly Patel
Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 12:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 12:02 pm

A teacher who taught at a school in Hemel Hempstead says he quit the job he loved over his stance on school lockdowns, masking and student vaccine mandates.

Damiano Pieroni, who taught History at Longdean School in Hemel Hempstead for 32 years, says he became increasingly disillusioned by what had happened to his profession over the course of the last two years during the Covid-19 pandemic and decided to move on.

His views were shared on social media and the school received three complaints - with Mr Pieroni attending a tribunal where he was charged with gross misconduct.

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Damiano Pieroni

He says he received a 'final warning' last October - but had already made the decision to quit.

The school's headteacher says Longdean provided a home delivery service of work and materials to students and wrote to parents, staff and students every day to keep them updated and supported.

But the school declined to comment on the tribunal as it was a legal process.

Mr Pieroni, 55, originally from Manchester, said: “I loved my job, the school and the kids. When I moved to Hemel Hempstead I always had the intention of going back up north eventually, but when I found this job my family decided to settle here long term.

"All that started to change just after the start of the first lockdown."

He claims that while he was teaching vulnerable children once a fortnight, other children had been "completely abandoned".

He said: "They were being taught online but there was no compulsion. We could not teach as normal, it was no way a substitute and we didn’t even know if the kids were either listening or there.

"For all I knew they were playing on their Xboxes after signing in."

He added: "The vaccination roll-out was the final red line."

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Mr Pieroni said that by March last year everything was "perfectly normal".

He said: "But then we received a directive from the Head of Public Health at Herts County Council recommending masks in class.

"This and Sajid Javid going against the JCVI’s advice of not vaccinating kids and rolling out the programme to include them made me decide I would quit before Christmas.

"It was the final red line for me that was crossed."

Graham Cunningham, headteacher at Longdean School, said: “The mental health and wellbeing of our students and staff at Longdean is paramount.

“Like many people across the country, lockdown was very challenging for all members of our school community.

"However, I am incredibly proud of the hard work that our staff carried out during this time to provide pastoral support and academic work to all of our students.

“This included delivering 25 hours of teams lessons each week, as well as running other engaging challenges for our pupils.

“We provided a home delivery service of work and materials to students – including loaning out 400 laptops, and the school wrote to parents, staff and students every day to keep them updated and supported.

“Additionally, as part of our role in the wider community, we provided PPE to local care homes and hospitals and dropped food parcels to local centres.

“Since returning to school after lockdown, Longdean staff have continued to work incredibly hard to support the social and emotional needs of all pupils.”

Damiano Pieroni says his decision to quit was further cemented by the NHS teams coming into the school and calling some of the students for their vaccinations.

He did not go into school on that occasion, saying he "could not face it".

Mr Peroni added: “It’s very sad because I truly loved the job I had done for so long, loved the pupils and will really miss it."