5000 teachers to be suspended from NSW schools!? Unbelievable! The Madness continues….. – Mick Raven
Almost 5000 NSW teachers risking suspension over vaccine mandate rules
Almost 5000 NSW teachers are risking suspension because they haven’t yet said if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, days before a vaccine mandate kicks in.
About 4900 teachers have not advised the Education Department of their status, the department’s chief people officer Yvette Cachia told a budget estimates hearing in NSW Parliament on Tuesday.
Teachers who aren’t fully vaccinated will be suspended from Monday, when a public health order begins mandating vaccination for the state’s teachers.
Cachia said it was not surprising many were leaving it to the last minute, given the international experience, and she expected many teachers to attest to their vaccination status in the coming days.
Almost 74,000 teachers are registered as fully vaccinated.
One Nation MP Mark Latham questioned why rapid antigen tests couldn’t be used for unvaccinated teachers, instead of suspending them.
NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell. Credit: AAP
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said on Tuesday that rapid antigen testing “certainly plays a role” but it couldn’t replace vaccination, which is the best way to protect students and teachers.
“Even if a staff member took a rapid antigen test and was not positive for COVID, they would be in a classroom where there could be a child that put them at risk,” department secretary Georgina Harrisson said.
Rapid antigen testing for schools is being trialled in the border town of Albury, which has an outbreak.
It is being used as surveillance in the community to make sure the outbreak is contained, and to ensure there isn’t transmission in schools, Harrisson said.
Vaccines are administered to NSW students at Qudos Bank Arena. Credit: AAP
The quicker, less reliable form of testing could also be used to limit the amount of time those exposed to the virus need to spend self-isolating.
The department is contracting about 30 short-term workers to look into teachers who haven’t certified that they’ve been vaccinated by next Monday.
Cachia said the surge workforce was to help complete investigations in a timely fashion to get teachers back into the classroom if the issue could be worked out – for example, if they have a medical reason that prevents them from being vaccinated.
“We want to be able to give certainty to our school principals on staffing,” she said.
“What we are trying to do is to ensure that before any decisions around employment are taken … that we have fair and due process for our staff,” Harrisson said.
Teachers don’t have to provide their vaccination certificates to the government, but their principal must be satisfied they’re double-vaccinated.
Meanwhile, changes to the NSW government’s reopening roadmap will mean additional activities return to schools from next Monday.
Assemblies and presentations will be allowed in cohorts outdoors, dancing and excursions are back, and music can be played if students can wear a mask.
Fully-vaccinated volunteers and providers can be on site to support school operations or help out in the tuckshop or uniform shop.
Some 19,000 air purifiers have been purchased for schools following a statewide audit into classroom ventilation, the estimates hearing was told on Tuesday.
Just under 2000 have been installed so far.