The Ruapehu district mayor is deeply disappointed that teachers at a small rural school in his region refuse to be vaccinated.
Matiere School in King Country has a staff of three teachers, three support staff members, and one assistant teacher.
Director Vanessa Gotz told RNZ that [https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/455243/covid-19-all-staff-at-small-king-country-school-refusing-vaccine-by-next-week-s-deadline
none of her staff intend to get vaccinated].
This means that, considering the deadline for all teachers to receive their first vaccination before Monday, the school will not be able to open next week.
Ohura farmer Scott Gower, whose children attended Matiere School, is appalled by the staff’s decision not to get vaccinated.
He said the area had several alternative lifestyles, so it wouldn’t surprise him that they probably didn’t want the vaccine, but school was a different matter.
” I would have thought that school teachers and boards of directors would have seen the point in getting vaccinated. And the responsibility of being vaccinated as well. It is a responsibility they have for their community and the children, and the children returning home. ”
He’s incredulous that a handful of people could put the community at risk.
“ We are lucky that we can still operate and we are waiting for people to get vaccinated so that the country can start to move to some normality, so they are not only holding the country to rescue, these guys are holding back their little communities. ” to rescue now. ”
The roughly 40 children at the Matiere school are expected to return to remote learning next week, when the vaccination mandate takes effect.
Ohura Valley School is about 20 km west of Matiere School. Principal Anna Fourie said only the president of the school’s board of directors, Sonia Corrigan, could comment on the school’s situation, but she declined to provide her phone number.
Federated Farmers rural education spokesman Wayne Langford said staff shortages in rural schools have been a long-standing problem and that the mandate could exacerbate it.
Schools were having to consider their options, he said.
” Of course they won’t know until this date how many teachers they have and how many they don’t. What support staff do they have and what will it look like?
“We could definitely see some split shifts, so the kids go to school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays instead of five days a week. We can’t afford Covid to enter our rural communities. We just don’t have the infrastructure to be able to. to deal with it. ”
The mayor of Ruapehu, Don Cameron, is not happy.
“They have to understand that they have to protect their youth and I just shake my head, sorry, I do not agree with that position. I think it’s crazy. He is putting the whole town at risk because some people don’t want to get vaccinated. ”
He said that Covid-19 cases in small communities will take off very quickly.
” If someone walks in here and is positive for Covid, it will spread like wildfire, we just know it and we are really concerned about it and of course you do not choose whether you are young or old, anyone who is not vaccinated will get sick. ”
It’s an opinion supported by King Country Mayor John Robertson of Waitomo District.
“Clearly, we need to spread the message to encourage people to get vaccinated, whether they are teachers or meat workers, whatever, and this is important to keep people out of the hospital and, to be honest, to avoid death. “.
In the streets of Te Kuiti there was some support for the teachers.
“I think it is the people’s choice. It is an individual decision because the vaccine has not been shown to prevent you from contracting Covid.
“I think that not everyone can get them, so I think that also has to be factored into the factors.
” Of course they should (get vaccinated). Take care of the children, save the children. ”
“I really don’t think people should be told that they have to do something against their wishes.”
It is estimated that in King Country alone around a third of teachers refused to get vaccinated against Covid-19.