School principals are confident that their staff will comply with the government’s order to be vaccinated before January 1.
They are also relieved that the Cabinet has not gone ahead with plans to reopen Auckland schools next week.
School and early childhood personnel who have contact with children must receive their first vaccination before November 15, 2021 and the second before January 1, 2022.
It’s unclear how many might refuse or what will happen to them and a petition opposing the vaccine mandate had more than 25,000 signatures as of last night.
Auckland teacher and regional president of the Post Primary Teachers Association, Michael Cabral-Tarry, said most of his members supported the no jab no work rule and that the government order would likely persuade the undecided.
“Where vaccine mandates have been introduced, compliance rates are always very, very high because in many cases people have been waiting for that final push, that final step to convince them to get vaccinated and a mandate for a large number of people. it will be exactly the push they need, “he said.
Otorohanga College principal Traci Liddall, who is in Waikato and under alert level 3, said there would be a setback, but most teachers were happy to get the Pfizer vaccines.
“There will be some resistance. There is a freedom page for teachers or something on Facebook that I was looking at earlier that has some members and people who say they are going to stand firm, but I think generally most schools the staff will be on board.
“I know that most of my staff are already on at least one shot and many are already twice vaccinated,” he said.
The vaccine decision was accompanied by the announcement that the government had rejected plans to reopen Auckland schools next week.
Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate director Kiri Turketo said he was trying to get out of lockdown, but Monday would have been too early.
She and other AimHi group principals from decile one schools wrote to Education Minister Chris Hipkins last week urging him to reconsider the October 18 reopening due to the risk of further spreading Covid-19.
“If we go to school too fast because we are babysitters for the parents, what we will become is a super spreader of the virus. In fact, it is more harmful to go to a half school and be closed immediately, which means that the entire region will be closed, “he said.
Mount Albert Grammar principal Patrick Drumm said the decision not to reopen Auckland schools next week was frustrating but unavoidable.
“If anything, I, my colleagues and other staff have been scratching our heads about how we could go back in a week and make it work in schools with the current state of cases and all that sort of thing,” he said. .
He said the reopening of the city’s schools should be tied to vaccination rates and, with that in mind, it was upsetting that the government was moving now to make teachers take the hit.
“It’s great, but it’s frustrating that it wasn’t announced three or four months ago,” he said.
“The schedule, the first dose for November 15, who you know you could enter a service tomorrow and get your first injection, so it seems like a pretty generous schedule and then fully vaccinated for January 2022, I’m just not sure. why those timelines are so long. “
Education Minister Chris Hipkins said he wanted to give schools time to replace any staff who refused to get vaccinated.
He said it was not practical to expect schools to find new staff in the middle of fourth term.
The Education Ministry told schools it would provide more information on mandatory vaccinations and other changes, including mandatory covid testing for staff in level 3 areas.