Mandatory vaccination for school sector a sensible safety move
Vaccination is the most effective layer of defence against COVID-19 and will help keep students and teachers safe, says PPTA Te Wehengarua president Melanie Webber. "As we’ve seen around the world, and most recently in New South Wales and Victoria, unvaccinated people are most at risk of getting seriously ill or dying from the COVID-19 Delta variant. This variant is highly contagious and spreads easily and quickly among large groups of people, particularly indoors. So secondary schools, especially in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, have real potential to be super spreaders.
“Making vaccination mandatory for the schools sector by 1 January 2022 and putting in place interim testing and vaccination registers for students are significant decisions and we need more information about how they will work in practice. There need to be very clear processes in place as soon as possible.”
Ms Webber said PPTA welcomed the Government’s decision to not re-open Auckland schools until more safety measures were in place. “Many teachers were very concerned about schools re-opening next week so we are pleased the Government has listened. Although it’s a less than ideal start to Term 4 teaching and learning will carry on and teachers will make it work as best as possible for students.”
From the onset of the pandemic PPTA’s policy has been to support the decisions of the Ministry of Health, which are based on scientific evidence and a robust legal framework.
“Mandated vaccination to perform face-to-face teaching duties, as required by the Ministry of Health falls into this policy. PPTA recognises the right of individuals to choose not to be vaccinated but acknowledges that under the vaccine mandate this will require compromises to be made to provide maximum protection for all members and for students and their communities.
“PPTA advice is for all members to be fully vaccinated, but we will continue to support, through our field officers, individual members who choose not to be by ensuring fair and just processes are followed.
“We would also strongly recommend vaccination for school students over the age of 12.”