South Australia brings in mandated COVID-19 vaccines for ECEC, preschool and schools
South Australia is the latest state to introduce mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff and volunteers at South Australian schools, preschools and early childhood education and care (ECEC) facilities.
The Education and Early Childhood Settings Vaccination Direction 2021 came into effect at 12:26 pm on 16 November 2021, and requires education and early childhood professionals at the following services to have received at least one dose of TGA-approved or recognised COVID-19 vaccination by 10 December 2021:
- All government and non-government schools including primary, secondary and/or both
- Early learning centres
- Boarding houses
- All education and care service premises as defined in the Education and Care Services National Law, for example long day care, family day care, outside school hours care and preschool programs in schools
- Any location where any early childhood education and care service funded by the Commonwealth Government through the former Budget Based Funding Program is provided
- Any location where any early childhood service is defined in section 4 of the Education and Early Childhood Services (registration and standards) Act 2011 is provided other than in-home care services.
The Direction applies to all people who attend an education and early childhood setting in the course of their work or duties in a full time, part time, contract, casual or volunteer capacity, even if their attendance is incidental or occasional.
Staff affected will have to show that they have received their first vaccination by 10 December 2021 – the end of the school year, and “must have a plan” for getting their second dose before the 2022 school year commences. The measures extend to parents who volunteer their services, including for activities such as fundraising, or working in a school canteen.
Those with medical exemptions will be excused from the mandate, along with parents and carers who are dropping off or picking up children, or incidental visitors to the school or early learning service, such as delivery drivers and urgent maintenance workers.
The measures come as South Australia anticipates a surge in COVID-19 cases once the state’s borders open to double-vaccinated travellers from NSW, Victoria and the ACT on 23 November.
“Staff and volunteers who do not have an appropriate exemption or a medical exemption working in our education or early childhood workforce will need to have that first vaccination by the end of this school year — that’s 10 December,” Education Minister John Gardner announced.
“[They will need] a plan in place to have that second vaccination by the beginning of next year. This will ensure we can keep our children and our education workforce safe, our schools and our preschools and our early childhood settings open.”
Staff or volunteers who do not get vaccinated will have to take personal leave from 11 December. A specialist contact-tracing team will be set up within the Education Department in line with the announcement, to support services who are directed to close as a result of a confirmed COVID-19 case.
Rules for TAFEs and universities will be announced separately. For more information please see here.
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