News.com.au – A Queensland school has seen almost all of its teachers walking off the job, with reports they are “standing up for their rights” ahead of an impending statewide Covid vaccination mandate.
Under new rules announced this week, “high risk” workers and teachers in Queensland will soon have to get a Covid-19 vaccine or face losing their jobs.
The state is set to bring itself into line with other parts of Australia in mandating vaccines for its 100,000-plus education workforce, with new rules expected to go live before the start of the 2022 school year.
Teachers will need to receive their first dose by December 17, and their second dose by January 23.
A workers body has warned the new rules have been brought in too quickly and could lead to an exodus of thousands of teachers in the state.
This morning, the Gympie Timesreports that four teachers at Glenwood State School — about a two-and-a-half hour drive north of Brisbane — have reportedly taken leave from their jobs in a shock move a week before the school year ends. That is a significant proportion of the teachers at the small, regional state school.
Glenwood mother Marie Shing, whose 12-year-old daughter Abby Waters is about to complete Year Six at the school, claimed she heard the news through another parent, which was later confirmed by one of the teachers who left.
“All four of them have agreed that they’re standing up for their rights,” she told the newspaper. “I don’t think they’re coming back next year.”
Miss Shing claimed Prep and Year 1 teacher, the Year 2 and 3 teacher, the Year 3 and 4 and Year 5 and 6 teacher at Glenwood had all gone on leave.
A spokesman for the Queensland Department of Education told news.com.au that the school has “made arrangements to ensure the continuity of learning for all students will not be impacted”.
The Teachers’ Professional Association of Queensland secretary Jack McGuire said he suspected at least 10 per cent of teachers across the state would be reluctant to get the jab.
“That’s 6000 teachers in Queensland … and about 180,000 kids impacted, if you assume they each have 30 kids in a classroom,” he told the Brisbane Times. “[This] is catastrophic to the education system … it’s a sledgehammer when a surgical knife is required.”
Marie Shing said she is yet to be notified of the situation by Glenwood State School, and had to break the news to her 12-year-old daughter Abby Waters, who is about to graduate year six.
The latest vaccine hesitancy data shows 11.1 per cent of Queenslanders are either unwilling or unsure if they will get the vaccine.
Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said the mandate will keep students and staff safe, and that those with an appropriate medical exemption will not have to get vaccinated.
The rule will bring Queensland in line with every other mainland state and territory.
“We have a responsibility to parents and carers who want to know their children are in safe environments,” Ms Grace said.
“This action is in the best interests of our children, young people, and our staff, and will help keep our schools and early childhood centres open.”
The walkout comes as the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) warned general practice teams are dealing with increasing abuse from people seeking Covid-19 vaccine exemptions.
It says anti-vaxxer groups have been encouraging people to seek exemptions on grounds that are not listed as a condition for exemption by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s (ATAGI) Expanded Guidance.
The latest figures show that 76.8 per cent of Queenslanders are fully vaccinated