On 25 October 2021, the COVID-19 Vaccination Order came into effect.
This Vaccination Order makes COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for anyone working onsite at a school who may come into contact with students. It applies to:
- all school staff (teachers, support and other onsite staff)
- anyone else engaged to provide onsite services
All education staff who may have contact with children must have had their first jab by November 15 and be fully vaccinated by January 1, 2022.
We understand the implications this has for school boards, as employers of all school staff.
The following information is a precis of the Vaccination Order and includes links to more detailed information and guidance.
Please read the information to familiarise yourself with the requirements boards must meet over the coming weeks. This phase is critical to the success of the Vaccination Order and will help ensure you get the process right now, to avoid employment processes in future.
STEP 1: Provide Information
Between now and 15 November, boards and principals should:
- Advise all staff in writing about the Vaccination Order and encourage staff to get vaccinated
- Reiterate this advice in staff meetings and kanohi ki te kanohi discussions, noting that you can only encouragestaff to get vaccinated; you must not direct them. You can also explain the consequences that not getting vaccinated may have. Please take care not to be intrusive such as asking for a show of hands at a meeting or sending group emails.
- If you are making changes to school policies because of the Vaccination Order, you must involve staff and unions in this process and seek confidential feedback on any proposed change
- Support and encourage staff to get vaccinated. This includes allowing them to get vaccinated during work hours.
Vaccinations can be an emotive topic for staff and employers. Please model kindness and understanding in your discussions with staff and encourage them to seek medical advice from trusted sources, e.g., their GP or the Ministry of Health’s website.
STEP 2: Gather Information
Between now and 15 November, boards and principals must:
- Ask employees, workers and anyone engaged on site to provide evidence of their vaccination status
- Anyone who refuses to provide this information must be recorded as ‘unvaccinated’; noting this can be changed/updated
- Evidence of vaccination must be recorded and stored securely. It’s important to note that the Vaccination Order overrides any Privacy Act right to not provide medical information, but the requirement to properly record and store information remains.
- Secondary Schools must have a vaccine register in place by 9 November 2021.
You can access details of the vaccine-related information you must record, as well as what constitutes 'proof', and how to deal with refusals and/or staff who are medically exempt from getting vaccinated here.
STEP 3: Initiating an employment process
If, despite your attempts to proactively implement the Vaccination Order, you encounter resistance or refusal from anyone onsite to comply with the Order, boards and principals can now:
- Advise staff and those providing onsite services who have not been vaccinated in writing that they have not yet provided the school with proof of their first COVID-19 vaccination
- The board can then commence an employment process, which could potentially affect their future employment or engagement.
- If the refusal relates to an employee, it would be prudent at this point to invite the employee to a meeting to discuss the matter.
Despite the Public Health Order (PHO) requirement to supply evidence around vaccination by 15 November, as at 16 November it remains unclear how work will be performed, both on- and off site, beyond that date. We will provide an update as soon as we have information available to assist boards.
NZSTA understands the complexities of employment relations and processes and we encourage you to access detailed information about initiating an employment process here.
We're here to help!
We have created a range of information and resources to help boards and principals successfully implement the Vaccination Order. This includes the latest information from the Ministry of Education, NZEI and the PPTA.
We are also updating our FAQs page with information (questions and issues) we’re receiving from boards, which will further assist you to understand and implement the vaccination Order.
You can access detailed Vaccination Order information and resources here.