Govt. toughens stand against unvaccinated teachers

The State Government has toughened its stand against teaching and non-teaching staff in schools who are yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Nearly 5,000 teaching and non-teaching staff in the State are estimated to be unvaccinated though schools reopened on November 1.

Minister for General Education V. Sivankutty told The Hindu that teachers were role models and the Government took a serious view of their refusal to get vaccinated as it affected society as a whole. “There are around 1.6 lakh schoolteachers in the State. A minority among them are yet to take their vaccines. This cannot be accepted. The guidelines for school reopening stipulated that teachers should get their COVID-19 shots. Vaccination is especially important as the Government is considering resuming full-fledged classes in schools in a week or two, and concerns over the emerging new COVID-19 variant. We need to be extremely vigilant.”

Mr. Sivankutty said that unvaccinated teachers had been asked initially to stay away from school and take online classes. Their presence in schools in violation of COVID-19 guidelines could not be encouraged. “Children’s safety is our priority. We cannot have parents refusing to send their children to school as teachers are not vaccinated. If they have not taken the vaccine owing to health reasons, they should have a certificate to this effect from a competent authority.”

The Minister who made a fresh plea to teachers to get vaccinated in the interests of public safety hinted at strict action. “Exact numbers of teachers and non-teaching staff who are unvaccinated will be published soon,” he said.

Just ahead of school reopening this month, the General Education Department had said that 2,282 teachers and 327 non-teaching staff were yet to get their shots.

Teachers’ organisations called for creating more awareness among teachers of the need to get vaccinated. Kerala School Teachers Association general secretary N.T. Sivarajan said though they had not collected any data of how many teachers remained unvaccinated, the union felt that sensitising them to the social need would work better. “Creating confidence among teachers will help combat vaccine hesitancy. Schools have been functioning without any disruptions, and parents are no longer reluctant to send their wards to school. However, if parents come to know that teachers are unvaccinated, they will be apprehensive.”

Officials also point out that in October, the High Court had dismissed writ petitions filed by a few schoolteachers challenging a circular issued by the Director of General Education insisting that teachers and other staff members take two doses or at least one dose of the vaccine.

A total of 63.4% of the eligible population in the State has been fully vaccinated, while 96% has received one dose.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 9:06:40 PM |

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