Conflicting rules around school vaccine mandate 'incredibly challenging' - principal

Mount Hutt College. Photo: LDR
Mount Hutt College. Photo: LDR
The principal of a Methven high school believes conflicting rules for teachers and the wider school community leaves some question marks around the vaccination mandate for teachers.

Multiple teachers in Mid Canterbury are set to put to their careers on hold and school leaders short-staffed as the vaccination mandate for the education sector comes into effect on Wednesday.

Tomorrow marks the last day for educators to have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to keep their classroom jobs.

School leaders throughout the Ashburton district have suggested there would be an impact but were reluctant to share specific numbers around vaccine-resistant teachers.

Methven's Mount Hutt College principal Jack Saxon said the protocols had presented plenty of headaches from an administrative point of view.

"There's a great level of complexity when you start looking at workers and how they're defined within the public health order," he said.

"That's incredibly challenging."

Saxon said there was also "a shifting of the goalposts" when it came to how the mandate was applied throughout the wider school community.

"The fact that parents can come into schools in their role as parents, regardless of their vaccination status, that students are predominantly coming from the same household as parents and returning there each night.

"Yet those same parents cannot support some activities where they would be classed as workers."

"But I'm going to support whatever the legal mandate is because that's my role, but there are some questions that permeate around that for me."

It has been revealed that parents of pupils at Ashburton Borough primary school will need to provide evidence of at least one vaccine dose if they want to come into the classroom or meet with a teacher.

Ashburton College principal Ross Preece said "a handful" of teachers would be implicated.

"Some people have made some calls based on the information out there," he said.

"People have concerns around the Pfizer and they've done research based on their individual circumstance."

For staff members who were refusing the vaccine, discussions are occurring as to what their employment entitlements are, Preece said.

Mid Canterbury Principals' Association chair Rebekah Clement said it was a tricky situation for all school they seemed to be managing as best as they could.

"Sometimes its not until you start going down the process that's questions are raised and some grey areas," she said.

- By Adam Burns
Local Democracy Reporter

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