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COVID-19: No guarantee teachers are jabbed, no way to find out if they are
When early childhood centres reopen more widely on Wednesday, parents will have no guarantee teachers are vaccinated, and no way of checking if they are.
Speaking on Breakfast on Tuesday morning, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the education ministry was considering whether teachers should be required to get the jab.
But no firm plans have been put in place and on Tuesday afternoon, the Ministry of Education reiterated the Covid vaccine is voluntary for all New Zealanders.
Parents have been ringing centres asking whether teachers have had the shot, according to Sue Kurtovich, acting chief executive of the Early Childhood Council.
Vaccination is a “muddy area” for any small business, she said.
“Privacy issues are a minefield – it’s confusing what you can and can’t do.”
While employers can ask their staff whether they’ve had the jab, staff are not obliged to tell them – and this information cannot be shared with parents without the consent of employees.
Some centres could require that roles are only carried out by vaccinated staff, but that needs to be written into policies and employment agreements already in place.
The union for primary and ECE teachers, the NZ Educational Institute (NZEI), said it would not call for a vaccine mandate but did encourage everyone to get vaccinated.
A number of experts back the idea of mandatory vaccines for school and ECE staff, which have been introduced across the ditch in New South Wales and Victoria.
Childcare expert and ChildForum chief executive Dr Sarah Alexander said vaccinating all workers – including cooks and administrative staff – would add a “layer of protection”.
“Professionally and ethically I think early childhood teachers should take all steps for protecting children and one of those steps is getting vaccinated.”
If the government doesn't mandate vaccines, parents “should have the right to know” whether the people caring for their children are jabbed or not, she said.
Speaking on Breakfast on Tuesday morning, Dr Siouxsie Wiles said she wanted to see vaccine mandates for teachers.
“Nobody should be working in a school if they’re not vaccinated.”
“We know from the data overseas, if a teacher is affected and not wearing a mask, then they’ll transmit it to the students and the students will take it home.”
Dr Jin Russell, a developmental paediatrician at the University of Auckland, said one of the best ways to protect children was a 100 per cent vaccine rate for staff and eligible students.
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