Media Release: Open letter to the ACT Chief Minister: Priority vaccinations for staff in schools and early childhood services
Our union represents teachers and support staff in the non-government education sector in NSW and the ACT.
I am writing concerning today’s announcement of 22 new COVID cases and a total of 67 active COVID cases in the ACT. A number of these cases are associated with school communities, including most recently St Thomas Aquinas Primary School and Holy Spirit Primary School. The union appreciates the efforts the ACT government is making to deal with this crisis, including the lockdown in place until 2 September 2021.
We note that priority access to vaccines was announced today by the ACT government for clinical and non-clinical workers in hospitals, health, age and disability facilities.
The union is seeking that priority access be extended to teachers and other staff employed in schools and early learning centres, given the contagiousness of the Delta virus and its capacity to spread among young people, including children.
This is essential to ensure that the health and safety of staff and students is protected. The union considers that before any schools or early learning centres can be re-opened, other than for the children of essential employees or vulnerable children, all teachers and support staff in both primary and secondary schools, as well as early childhood settings, must be provided the opportunity to be vaccinated. Such priority has been provided to all school and early learning centre staff in Queensland by the Queensland government and by the NSW government to school and early learning centre staff in the most affected Local Government Areas in NSW.
Schools and early childhood centres need to be safe for staff required to work on site. All staff should have access to vaccines and be protected from risk of harm as much as possible.