NSW Teachers’ Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said it was an important measure for student and staff safety, but school-level data was needed to know whether schools would have sufficient numbers to operate by the earlier date.
“How many teachers will be double vaccinated by that date remains unknown. Dealing with this in global figures does not give us a clear picture as to how it will impact from school to school,” he said.
“Staffing profiles vary from school to school: some schools have larger numbers of younger teachers, others have larger numbers of older teachers. Access to the vaccination rollout reflected different demographics.
“The orderly, staggered return of students, as advised by Health, is necessary, but not without its challenges. It assumes that students’ current teachers will be onsite and have met the vaccination requirements. That may not be the case. Teachers who have their own children will face additional challenges.”
Ms Mitchell said teacher vaccination rates were on par with the general population, but did not give more detailed figures when asked on Thursday. The department’s most recent optional staff survey from September 17 showed 79 per cent of respondents had received one dose and 56 per cent were double vaccinated.
“We’ll be doing more data collection from our staff beginning early next week, so that we can get a better picture on what those numbers are, but our information from our surveys has indicated that our teacher vaccination rates are largely in line with community vaccination rates as well,” she said. “More data will be forthcoming next week.”
The department’s classroom audit is also expected to be finalised early next week. “We’ve also gone out to tender, to look at opportunities around ventilation and air purifier in any school spaces where we know we’re going to need extra ventilation,” Ms Mitchell said.
According to a private tender document issued to suppliers late last week, the department is specifying it wants the supply of units that have high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) certified medical-grade filters. “The department will be looking to engage multiple suppliers to deliver the required units,” the document says.
It said portable units would be selected based on the size of the area in which they will be used, and that deliveries had to begin within a week of the department’s order being placed.