Letting Un-Vaccinated return to work? Would be great if I could get my part time job back (Video/Camera) I suppose the powers that be will pick and choose who is eligible for a job? (Sounds like discrimination to me) – Mick Raven
Vaccine mandate for South Australian teachers and transport workers dropped as COVID-19 cases approach record
SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens (right) with Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier (left) and a sign language interpreter at Wednesday’s press conference.(ABC News)
Unvaccinated teachers and school staff in South Australia, as well as public transport workers and taxi and rideshare drivers, will be able to return to work tomorrow.
Vaccine mandates on workers in the school and passenger transport sectors will lift at midnight, Police Commissioner Grant Stevens announced.
Both sectors have faced workforce pressures amid escalating COVID-19 cases in South Australia.
The state recorded two deaths of people with COVID-19 and 5,496 new cases, the second highest daily total on record.
Those who died were a man aged in his 70s and woman in her 80s.
A total of 180 people with the virus are in hospital, including eight in intensive care and one on a ventilator.
Daily case numbers are expected to continue to rise throughout the first half of April.
“The numbers we do expect to continue to rise and we’re working very closely with — and I’m working closely with — our healthcare system to make sure we both have in-hospital care but also out-of-hospital care for everybody that requires it,” Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said.
New rules for public school teachers
Unvaccinated workers in public schools will be required to wear masks at all times indoors and use a rapid antigen test (RAT) every day.
They will not be able to work in remote Aboriginal schools, in special schools or one-on-one with vulnerable students.
The mandates were put in place last year under the commissioner’s powers through the Emergency Management Act.
New Premier Peter Malinauskas is planning to revoke the state of emergency by the middle of the year.
Mr Stevens said the mandate had been useful despite being revoked about four months after it was implemented.
“The mandate under the Emergency Management Act was put in place so we could implement quick and effective changes that saw staff in critical sectors vaccinated as quickly as possible and getting those vaccination levels up to a high standard,” he said.
“That has been achieved.”
Very few public school staff unvaccinated
With only about 200 staff out of 31,000 unvaccinated, Department for Education chief executive Rick Persse said dropping the mandate was not about resolving a staff shortage caused by the number of teachers having to isolate with COVID-19 or close contacts.
“It’s not a motivating factor on this; this is something we’ve been working on with the commissioner for months,” Mr Persse said.
“Obviously, these directions cease to be valid when the emergency declaration ends at some point in the future so we wanted to be in front of that.”
Department for Education chief executive Rick Persse says very few staff are unvaccinated.(ABC News: Sarah Mullins)
However, Professor Spurrier hinted that there was a connection.
“Education is a universal right for every child and so we need to make sure that we maintain staff so that every child has that opportunity to learn,” she said.
The mandate will also no longer apply to private school staff.
A similar mandate for police was dropped earlier this month, with unvaccinated officers also required to undergo regular testing and wear masks where others do not have to.
Maritime workers boarding international vessels in South Australia will also no longer have to be vaccinated.
A Supreme Court challenge opposing vaccine mandates — including in health care — starts next week.