Move to keep students, staff safe

KANGAR: The Education Ministry has decided that teachers who refuse Covid-19 vaccination will not be allowed to conduct face-to-face lessons or have any form of interaction with students when schools reopens on Oct 3.

Senior Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin said the move was implemented to give parents some reassurance that the school environment is safe for their children.

“Currently, there are 2,500 teachers in the country who are unvaccinated, while 96.7% have received the first dose, and 85.26% have completed both doses,” he said at a press conference after an engagement session with teachers at a primary school here yesterday.

He said that the ministry will also issue a directive for the duties and job scope of unvaccinated teachers.

“We are also discussing with the Public Service Department about action to be taken on teachers who refuse vaccination,” he told Bernama.

Radzi said other than teaching staff and other school personnel, those offering support services in schools, such as canteen workers, cleaners, and security personnel, are also required to be vaccinated.

“To date, 73.71% of the support staff have received both doses of the vaccine, while 89.43% have received their first dose.”

Meanwhile, teachers, students and all who are part of the school fraternity have been urged to get vaccinated. This would reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 in schools when they reopen in stages tentatively on Oct 3.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Wang Heng Suan said there must be a more concerted effort to educate teachers and parents who are anti-vaxxers on the importance of getting vaccinated.

He said the risk of Covid-19 spreading in schools is high if teachers are not vaccinated.

“Although the union has no right to take any action against unvaccinated teachers, nor are there laws that force people to do so, we encourage teachers to do so for their own good and society’s benefit.

“A safe environment will not exist for students (to learn in) and this will further jeopardise the education ecosystem,” he said in a statement, adding that so far, three students have filed police reports to state their right not to get vaccinated.

Schools, too, Wang said, need to tighten their standard operating procedures to give parents more confidence in sending their children back to school.

Previously, the NUTP also requested that vaccination centres (PPV) for students not be merged with the general PPV as the latter could increase students’ chances of being infected.

Similarly, Consumers’ Association of Penang senior consumer education officer NV Subbarow said it is vital for all teachers and students to be vaccinated before they return to schools.

If teachers refuse to be vaccinated, how will parents confidently send their children back to school, he asked.

“Canteen operators too must declare that they are vaccinated by putting it on the school’s notice board,” he added.

In a Facebook post on Sept 1, the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply said that, as at that date, out of 412,000 teachers in the country, 96.5% nationwide had received their first vaccination shot.

Meanwhile, 83.5% have been fully vaccinated.

In a statement on Thursday, Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah expressed disappointment that some religious (kafa) teachers and teachers in national type schools in the state have refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

The Sultan said he was informed that 268 teachers at national primary schools and 182 teachers at national secondary schools in Selangor have refused to take the vaccine, while 326 kafa teachers in Selangor had yet to receive the vaccine and 95 kafa teachers refused to take it.

The Sultan warned religious teachers and mosque officials in the state who refused the Covid-19 vaccine that they could be barred from carrying out their duties.

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