Rumours have been floating around that the Department of Basic Education has said that teachers who aren't vaccinated and choose not to be, would be fired. We have not been given insight into just how true this is.
This comes from a circular from the department which said that teachers must take the Covid-19 jab.
The Department of Basic Education's Spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, stepped up and said that teachers don't have to panic and that the circular is there to tell teachers what would happen should they return to schools unvaccinated.
If you have not vaccinated for a medical reason, you are expected to bring a medical report and the department will use that report to examine your reasons for not vaccinating.
He continued to say that they are aware of teachers and school staff choosing not to get vaccinated due to religious, cultural or other reasons. Should you be a teacher and choose not to take the vaccine, you will need to communicate your reason to the department.
"The department and schools will work with them to ensure that they keep their employment and still be able to do what they have been employed to do," explained Mhlanga.
So no, teachers will not lose their job if they choose to not get vaccinated. Other options would then be considered before anyone loses their job, said Mhlanga.
Within the circular, possible reasons for choosing not to be vaccinated are given. The department is then doing work to help encourage these people and counselling will be made available.
90% of those working within the education sector have been vaccinated. Of the initial 582 000 target, 517 000 were inoculated. There are however teachers who were getting vaccinated after the sector's rollout ended on 14 July.
We are happy. The number are good. In fact, way beyond our expectations. It's just that you'll never have 100% coverage but there are many reasons that lead to some not getting the vaccine.
Some reasons for people not getting vaccinated during the rollout period is that they were infected with the virus, are pregnant or have received a flu vaccine. There are of course those who are also hesitant to take it.
The department has also seen many opting to take the vaccine after expressing that they initially didn't want to.
Mhlanga also brought up the possibility of teachers who are vaccinated saying that they don't feel comfortable working with someone who isn't. He then says that they would then have isolation spaces but that this is one example of the complex issues that they have to balance.