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Gauteng Education ’extremely alarmed’ that some teachers with comorbidities refuse the jab

In this file picture, KwaZulu Natal teachers wait to be vaccinated. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

In this file picture, KwaZulu Natal teachers wait to be vaccinated. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 5, 2021


Johannesburg - Almost 10 000 teachers and support staff employed by the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) have refused to take the Covid-19 vaccines.

The GDE announced, on Friday, it was “extremely alarmed” that 9 113 educators and support staff, some with comorbidities, are refusing to be vaccinated.

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“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,” said Gauteng MEC for Education,Panyaza Lesufi.

Gauteng is the epicentre of the third wave of Covid-19 infections, the rapid spread of which has wreaked havoc on the province, the economic powerhouse of the country.

According to statistics revealed during the Gauteng Provincial Government Command Council media briefing, a total of 9 554 cases were reported at Gauteng schools from February 15 to June 30.

The GDE said that while vaccination was voluntary, the World Health Organization encouraged people at higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19, such as healthcare providers, educators, older or elderly adults, and people with other medical conditions, to take the Covid-19 jab to reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus and its consequences.

“Getting vaccinated could also help protect people around you, because if you are protected from getting infected from the disease, you are less likely to infect someone else,” the GDE said.

So far, 53 154 educators and support staff, out of 124 934 Gauteng education personnel, have been vaccinated at 56 sector-dedicated sites across the province. “The number of vaccinated personnel is expected to increase next week as the delays in the capturing of educators and support staff from School Governing Bodies (SGBs) and independent schools has been resolved,” the GDE said.

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Solidarity’s Educators’ Guild, on Friday, threatened the DBE with legal action over the roll-out of the vaccination programme, after a number of SGB teachers were allegedly turned away at vaccination stations.

“The Constitution makes it patently clear that everyone is equal before the law. By turning SGB teachers away, the state is thus discriminating against these teachers and denies them their right to receive vaccination.

’’We insist that the DBE stop withholding SGB teachers from receiving vaccines immediately and that a written undertaking be given that vaccination also be given to those SGB teachers who choose to be vaccinated,” Johan Botha, deputy general secretary of the professional sector at Solidarity, said.

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Botha added that under no circumstances can the state be allowed to make a distinction between departmental and SGB teachers regarding vaccination.

“We are ready to continue with further legal action should the DBE fail to respond by July 7 and should school governing body teachers not be able to receive their vaccinations by July 9,” said Botha.

Meanwhile, the GDE further said the reluctance among staff to be vaccinated undermined the efforts of the government to normalise schooling during the pandemic, and threatens the academic year in its entirety.

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“We again urge those who are refusing to vaccinate to come forward and take this vaccination, which millions across the world are seeking,” it said.

The Star