A group of 79 Canberra educators have signed a letter opposing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for some school staff, arguing they should not be stood aside or redeployed if they do not have two doses.
The letter viewed by The Canberra Times said teachers and early childhood workers should not have to be vaccinated because it would violate their human rights and claimed that there was no consultation before announcing the health direction.
It comes after a Canberra public school principal appeared in a video alongside Queensland Senator Malcolm Roberts questioning the need for a vaccine mandate for educators amid Canberra's high vaccination rate.
Charnwood-Dunlop School principal Rob Lans said he wouldn't conform to the ACT teacher vaccine mandate and claimed the vaccines were "experimental". He added he was willing to risk catching COVID and suggested a government cover-up about the dangers of the virus.
The video prompted the education union to plead with parents to not ask for teachers' vaccination status before the return to school.
"I am ... going to stand up for what I believe in and stand up for the value of that choice, that pro-information, making informed decisions - it is absolute human rights," he said.
"I actually feel ashamed that I haven't stood up sooner."
An Education Directorate spokeswoman said the directorate was aware of the video and that the matter would be dealt with internally.
"Vaccination coverage is a key component of the return to school plan," the spokeswoman said.
"High levels of vaccination combined with public health social measures are the best protections against COVID-19."
Australian Education Union senior industrial officer Patrick Judge said he could not give the number of unvaccinated staff but there were a few members in contact with the union about the mandate.
Mr Judge said while employers could ask for a teachers' vaccine status under strict conditions of confidentiality, parents should not ask classroom teachers whether they were vaccinated.
"We would prefer that parents didn't inquire into matters that might be asking our members to disclose personal medical information, particularly for those members of ours who, for medical reasons, may be unable to be vaccinated," Mr Judge said.
The government spokeswoman said the Education Directorate was not aware of the letter opposing the vaccine mandate.
"Education Directorate employees, along with all workers in the ACT impacted by the ACT Chief Health Officer's health direction about mandatory vaccination, were consulted prior to the direction being signed on 19 October."
A vaccine mandate for some school staff was announced last week. The health direction requires staff working in early childhood education, primary schools, out of school hours care and specialist and flexible education setting to be fully vaccinated.
They must provide proof to their employer of one dose by November 1 and a second dose by November 29.
A directorate spokeswoman said the school-based staff in the ACT already had high vaccination rates with a survey of public school staff showing that 97 per cent of respondents were on track to be fully vaccinated.
"Public school staff in these settings who choose not to be vaccinated without an exemption will be supported to work from home where suitable duties can be identified, or redeployed to suitable duties within the Education Directorate or broader public service," the directorate spokeswoman said.
Mr Judge said the video would not impact on community sentiment about COVID-19 vaccinations.
"I think it's fairly clear in the ACT that there is broad support for ensuring that we're vaccinated and looking after each other's health and safety."
He said the union supported the vaccine mandate for teachers working with unvaccinated children.
On Wednesday, the ACT government introduced another vaccine mandate for disability support workers and in-home and community aged care workers, on top of the existing mandate for certain healthcare workers and residential aged care workers.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith flagged a vaccine mandate could be considered for corrections officers and the mandate for healthcare workers could be broadened to include more settings.
New South Wales and Victoria have also introduced mandatory vaccination health directions in the lead-up to returning to face-to-face teaching.
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