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Australia Schools in Greater Sydney could face teacher shortages when full capacity returns as 160 seek help with staffing

11:25  23 october  2021
11:25  23 october  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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When face-to-face learning resumes for students in years 2 to 11 on Monday, a few thousand teachers could be absent from schools across Greater Sydney due to their vaccination status.

The warning from the NSW Teachers Federation comes as the Education Department confirms 160 schools have indicated they will need assistance with staffing next week.

New South Wales public health orders require all teachers to be fully vaccinated by November 8 and, while most have done so, "there will be gaps" after the government brought forward the return-to-school date.

"Recognising that, by bringing the return [date] forward, some teachers may not have been fully vaxxed in time," said the president of the state's Teachers Federation, Angelo Gavrielatos.

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"That presents serious challenges and was certainly not thought through by the government when it made the announcement to bring [the return date] forward."

After months from learning from home, kindergarten, year 1 and year 12 students were the first group to return to classrooms last week.

They were also the first to learn in a COVID-safe setting, with masks recommended for primary students but mandatory for staff and students in year 7 and above.

A system of self-reporting has been put in place for teachers to attest to their vaccination status.

As at Friday, October 22, more than 95 per cent of school staff had declared they were fully vaccinated, a spokesperson for NSW Education said, with the rate slightly higher among teachers.

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Mr Gavrielatos said the percentage of those unvaccinated meant there would be a shortage of about 3,000 teachers.

"That presents serious challenges in terms of the organisation of a school," he said, "in terms of ensuring that we have staff in front of every classroom and our timetabled classes proceed unaffected.

"These things should have been foreseen by the government."

NSW Education said it had contacted principals and was resourcing any schools that were affected.

"Of our more than 2,200 schools, only 160 schools signalled that they required some assistance with staffing," the spokesperson said.

"These schools are being provided with direct support to manage staffing needs over the next few weeks."

Earlier today, NSW Labor Leader Chris Minns said they had always supported the vaccine mandate for frontline workers as a necessary step to getting back to life as normal.

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He stressed, however, the importance of giving priority to teachers.

"We have to make sure that teachers have access to vaccines and nobody is being unable to go back to the classroom because they have not been able to access a vaccine," Mr Minns said.

He also said Labor would look into extending the vaccine mandate in cases where access was denied due to doses being redirected from one area to another.

"Earlier on in the pandemic, vaccinations were directed from the Hunter into south-west and western Sydney in order to deal with the high rates of infections in places like Fairfield and Liverpool," he said.

"And, if there is a lag in access from people in the Hunter, then that's something we would look at."

NSW currently has 84.4 per cent of people aged 16 years and over double-vaccinated. One dose has been given to 93 per cent of this cohort.

Nationally, 72.5 per cent of this age group has had two doses and 86.4 per cent have had at least one dose.

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usr: 0
This is interesting!