Released 13/10/2021 - Joint media release
The ACT Government is moving to require full vaccination against COVID-19 for certain staff working across early childhood settings, ACT primary schools, out of school hours care and specialist and flexible education settings for the remainder of 2021.
This will help to reassure parents of children under 12 – and particularly vulnerable children - that everything possible is being done to reduce the risk of COVID-19 as we go back to school and early childhood education and care.
This direction will cover staff including teachers, early childhood educators, learning and support staff, administrative staff (including building services and general services staff), canteen workers and cleaners who are in direct contact with children, as well as allied health professionals who regularly attend relevant schools. Students on placement at certain education settings will also be included in the requirement.
Under the Chief Health Officer direction, first-dose vaccination will be required by no later than 1 November 2021 and second dose by no later than 29 November 2021.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that decision to require vaccination is supported by the best advice on how to support the return of face-to-face learning for children who are not yet eligible for a vaccination.
“We already know through staff surveys and the total population vaccination rates that we have exceptionally high levels of vaccination in these settings,” Chief Minister Barr said.
“However, given that children under the age of 12 will be unvaccinated as school starts to return – the strong advice is that all possible measures need to be taken to surround these children with vaccinated people.”
Minister for Education and Youth Affairs and Minister for Early Childhood Development Yvette Berry said that consultation will start with staff and unions on the implementation of the public health direction.
“The Chief Health Officer has guided us through this pandemic, and it's important that we keep following the expert health advice about how to reduce risk for those who can't be vaccinated yet.”
“The Education Directorate will be working closely with public and non-government schools, unions and the early childhood sector over the next few days to operationalise the Chief Health Officer's advice, ahead of her signing the public health direction.”
ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said the decision to introduce mandatory vaccination for these workers is based on health advice and is consistent with actions being taken in other jurisdictions.
“Early in this outbreak we saw a significant impact on our schools,” Minister Stephen-Smith.
“This decision is about protecting our youngest Canberrans. While children under 12 are less likely to experience severe symptoms of COVID-19, they don’t have an approved vaccine and will be at risk of contracting and transmitting the virus. That’s why it’s so important that the adults working in schools with young and vulnerable children are vaccinated.”
Further information, including the other COVID-safe measures being put in place in ACT schools, can be found on the ACT Education Directorate website.
- Statement ends -