Teachers who have not been vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine may be allowed back into classrooms in New South Wales starting next term, according to the state’s education department. Stakeholders were consulted on Friday, and the strategy is expected to be finalized over the next two weeks. Teachers and departmental corporate workers might return to work under the proposal.
Only individuals who work at special-purpose schools, or who assist pupils in getting to such schools, will need to be vaccinated when school resumes on July 18.
Teacher resignations and dismissals aren’t automatically barred from reapplying for other open positions; however, non-tenured, unvaccinated employees may return.
Deputy Education Secretary Georgina Harrisson said the initiative was subject to an independent workplace risk assessment. “We have taken the time that was needed in coming to this position to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students would not be compromised,” Ms. Harrisson said.
Earlier this year, Premier Dominic Perrottet announced that he had instructed ministers to ensure that relevant agencies completed risk assessments for any modifications to vaccination mandates.
It has been reported to us that the NSW Teachers Federation has asked for a copy of the risk assessment and any supporting documentation on which it was built. “Our focus remains as it has done throughout the pandemic, on the health and safety of our students and teachers, based on expert health advice and risk assessments, so certainly, we will need to see those,” she said.
Prior to the rules’ implementation, there was no licensed vaccination or broad coverage for many younger pupils.
As Ms. Flohm recalled, “the health advice we received (then) was the best way to keep children safe was to have the adults around them vaccinated, and that was the basis of the mandate.”
Ms Harrisson added that up to 1000 active casuals might return to classrooms on the first day of term 3, but it was unlikely to have any influence on present staff shortages, which were linked to increasing sick leave being taken.
This year’s first half saw teachers miss 430,351 days of work due to illness, an increase of 145,491 days over the same period the previous year and 100,324 days over the period prior to the epidemic.
Miss Flohm said that although sick leave has added to the strain on schools, it is not to blame for the current scarcity of teachers.
Staffing difficulties were predicted long before COVID. “The department has been aware of the impending staff shortages for a long time.” “Unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries is the cause and until such time as the government addresses that and takes action on that, unfortunately for our students, those staffing shortages will remain and they will grow,” Ms. Flohm said. Rapid antigen testing and enhanced cleanliness and ventilation measures would be preserved under the idea of eliminating requirements for most education professionals.