Home South African Education dept still mulling issue of teachers who refuse Covid vaccination

Education dept still mulling issue of teachers who refuse Covid vaccination

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The Department of Basic Education says it is still in discussion on steps it will take to address the issue of teachers who refuse to get the Covid-19 vaccination.

File picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

ALL TEACHERS are expected to report for duty on July 19 already vaccinated for Covid-19 and those who opted not to vaccinate will be required to provide an explanation on what steps they will take to protect themselves, pupils and fellow teachers in the workplace.

This is according to Department of Basic Education (DBE) spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga.

“Teachers will be expected to report for duty. They would have been given an option to protect themselves against the virus,” he said.

On June 23 the DBE rolled out the Covid-19 vaccination programme for all teachers and non-teaching staff. Education sector workers have been given until July 8 to get the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccination.

This follows the DBE’s announcement that primary schools would be going back to 100% daily attendance from the third term.

This also coincides with the third wave which is expected to reach its peak with the new Delta variant in the country. Some teachers, however, have expressed their refusal to be vaccinated, attributing it to fear or myths going around about the vaccine.

Teachers are entitled to refuse the vaccine as it is within their rights, however, the risk of infection remains.

Mhlanga said the DBE was still tabling the issue of what would happen to those who have refused the vaccination as no one would be able to work from home or list comorbidities as a reason not to report for duty.

“The matter is still being discussed in the sector. There is no decision as yet on what steps will be taken,” he said.

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) executive director Basil Manuel said that at the moment the union was using this week to encourage and raise awareness for members to get vaccinated.

He said, however, the issue of steps that ought to be taken against teachers who refuse to vaccinate was an employer issue.

“We will certainly not support any action taken against people unless it can be proven that they will make the workplace unsafe,” said Manuel.