Mandate decision no surprise
“PPTA’s support of the mandates stemmed from our policy, led by members, that we would support public health advice around COVID-19. We supported the mandates as the best means of keeping teachers, students, and their communities, particularly the vulnerable, safe against a raging and deadly global pandemic. For us, the mandates were always about protecting ourselves but equally importantly trying to prevent young children, elderly and those who are immunocompromised, from being infected.
“While the vast majority of secondary teachers were vaccinated before the mandates were introduced, the requirement meant that vaccination rates across the education sector rose significantly, and we are now at the stage where the mandates have done their job and are not needed any longer.
“The removal of them is a decision that has been made based on the best public health advice. However, this does not mean a return to any sense of normality at the moment.”
Melanie Webber said the mandates had been extremely difficult for the relatively small number of secondary teachers who chose not to be vaccinated. “With teacher shortages continuing in secondary, it is likely that many of these teachers will be able to find new jobs in education now they are able to return. There will certainly be plenty of opportunities for relief teaching as schools continue to be hugely affected by Omicron.”
Melanie Webber said schools will need to work through details related to the employment of unvaccinated teachers. “And they will need to support staff, particularly those who are immuno-compromised or have underlying health conditions, who feel anxious about working alongside unvaccinated people.” This will need to be worked through on a school-by- school basis but we hope there will be some clear national guidelines that schools can follow.
“The mandates are just one element of the huge disruption COVID-19 has wreaked in school life over the last two years. Teachers have risen swiftly and impressively to the challenges of COVID-19 but there is no doubt the pandemic has really taken its toll on students and teachers. Hopefully there will be light at the end of the tunnel soon.”