Vaccine mandates impact teachers

As the Ministry of Education collates data around how many Thames Valley teachers have been affected by the government’s vaccine mandates, one principal has acknowledged that three of his staff will spend the rest of the school term at home.
Thames High School principal Michael Hart told The Profile the vaccine mandate was “uncharted territory”.
Three of his staff have been affected by the mandate – which required education workers to get their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by November 15 – and the school was “working with them to understand the full implications of this”.
“I really feel for staff who are in this position, but we must comply with the mandate and our duty to keep students and staff healthy and safe, and provide a healthy and safe environment for learning,” Mr Hart said.
“We will continue to work with affected staff to continue to support them and provide information to them.”
The affected staff were working in alternative duties or hours to comply with the order, he said, which provided the school time to work though the next steps. “It is hard to say what the future holds as we are working through this challenging situation, but we are hopeful that we can reach a satisfactory resolution that will allow us to have continuity of teaching and learning and wellbeing for all.” Meanwhile, Maramarua School Principal Andre van Schalkwyk said one of his staff members did not get their first jab before the school reopened on November 17, after being included in Waikato’s level 3 lockdown.
“That teacher will be doing online learning with the students who are deciding to learn from home,” Mr van Schalkwyk said.
“But we’re quite fortunate we haven’t had any major hiccups compared to other schools through the mandate.”
The Ministry of Education’s leader (hautū) operations and integration Sean Teddy said the ministry had asked school leaders for aggregate information on vaccination data; however, this was not mandatory.
“We are giving schools plenty of time to come back to us, as we appreciate it is a busy time for them,” he said.
Paeroa College and Hauraki Plains College were contacted but did not respond to requests for comment before deadline.
The vaccine mandates also applied to workers in the health and disability sector, with around 1309 staff being stood down nationwide because they did not receive their first Covid-19 vaccination before the November 15 deadline.
Waikato DHB, which includes Thames Hospital, had the highest number of staff stood down with 154. Of these, 65 were nurses, 10 were midwives and nine were senior or registered medical officers.