Vic ECEC educators and ECTs now subject to mandatory vaccinations
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer has advised that vaccination will be made a requirement of work for staff in early childhood settings and schools in order to protect children, staff and communities from the threat of COVID-19.
Under this direction, in order to attend work, all staff in schools and early childhood services will be required to have a first dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccination by 18 October or have a booking within one week, with full vaccination required by 29 November unless a medical exemption applies. The direction applies to all government and non-government schools and all types of early childhood and care settings.
ECEC sector and Minister responses
The decision has been welcomed by Victoria’s Early Childhood Minister Ingrid Stitt, who said “we welcome the decision by the Chief Health Officer to make vaccination a requirement of work for all staff in schools and early childhood education settings, helping (to) protect children and (the) dedicated education workforce” as the state begins to safely reopen.
A number of peak bodies and providers, including Goodstart Early Learning and the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) have also lent their support to the measure, with ELACCA CEO Elizabeth Death saying the Victorian Government’s clear commitment to vaccination for the early learning and care workforce will support ELACCA members and the broader ECEC sector to further increase the safety of children and their workforce.
She thanked the Premier, Minister and the Victorian Government for heeding ELACCA’s calls to place a high priority on keeping children and the dedicated ECEC workforce safe, enabling educators to provide the essential early learning and care services that our families and communities rely on.
Ms Death’s thoughts were supported by Goodstart’s Victorian Early Learning State Manager, Paul Ryan who described the mandate as a decision which is both “sensible and prudent”.
More than 20,000 children attend Goodstart’s 180 centres in Victoria, supported by 4,300 educators and teachers.
“Mandating vaccination of educators will significantly reduce the risk of transmission of COVID in centres as Victoria starts to open up,” Mr Ryan said, saying that the provider “strongly backed” the decision.
“With children under five unable to be vaccinated, the best way to keep them safe is to vaccinate the adults around them,” he added.
Enhanced ventilation measures to come for some services
As part of the announcement the Victorian Government shared information about the introduction of ventilation systems into all government and low-fee non-government schools to remove potentially infectious particles – like coronavirus – from higher-risk areas in schools including staff rooms, sick bays, music rooms and other high-traffic areas.
“Throughout the school holidays and Term 4, infrastructure audits, ventilation assessments, and CO2 monitoring that has already started will continue in a sample of schools to identify any further actions that can be taken to make schools even safer,” the announcement noted, highlighting that the measures will be extended to also cover a number of early childhood education services co-located on school sites.
“While our top priority is getting students back to school quickly and safely, we are establishing a Ventilation Technical Advisory Panel to undertake further risk assessments of other environments – for example, early childhood settings and youth justice facilities, which will help inform future ventilation measures,” the announcement further noted.
To review the announcement in full, please see here.