Basic Education mulls what actions to take against teachers who refuse Covid-19 vaccination

The issue of teachers who refuse the Covid-19 vaccination is still being discussed. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

The issue of teachers who refuse the Covid-19 vaccination is still being discussed. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jul 5, 2021


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, learners and fellow teachers in the workplace.

This is according to Department of Basic Education 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 human 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.

The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) said it was extremely alarmed that 9 113 educators and support staff – some with comorbidities – are refusing to have the Covid-19 vaccination jabs.

The province’s Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said: “We are very worried that nearly 10 000 of our personnel in the Gauteng education sector are, for one reason or the other, refusing to be vaccinated against this deadly virus which has wreaked havoc in our schools and communities by taking away our loved ones.”

Lesufi said the education sector was prioritised to ensure that contact learning continues and that no learner would be deprived of learning in a classroom with all the necessary curriculum resources needed.

“The refusal to vaccinate also impacts on the roll-out reaching other affected sectors timeously in order for the country to develop ‘herd immunity’,” he said.

National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) executive director  Basil Manuel said 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.

So far Gauteng has vaccinated 53 154 educators and support staff, out of 124 934, the Western Cape 28 500  and KwaZulu-Natal 88 697.