All teachers to be vaccinated by July 8, says Angie Motshekga

19 June 2021 - 14:17 By TimesLIVE
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga. File photo
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga. File photo
Image: Freddie Mavunda

All teachers will receive a Covid-19 vaccination by the time the winter school holiday begins, basic education minister Angie Motshekga said on Saturday.

But she said schools would not close in response to the surging third wave of Covid-19.

Briefing the media in Pretoria about the impact of Covid-19 on schools, Motshekga said 582,000 staff at public and private schools would be vaccinated between Wednesday and July 8.

The jab recipients would include support workers and people who work at education department offices nationally and provincially.

"As a sector we had appealed to cabinet and the department of health that teachers should be prioritised and we are excited that vaccines have been secured," said Motshekga.

"We have been working around the clock to finalise a plan for the vaccination of our staff. Subsequently, this morning we also had consultations with our other key stakeholders."

She said she had met teacher unions, school governing bodies, independent schools and the principals' association before a meeting of the Council of Education on Saturday morning to brief them on the vaccination plan.

"We will be vaccinating irrespective of age and we will be vaccinating SGB-appointed teachers as well as teachers at private schools."

Motshekga said vaccinations would be "voluntary but highly recommended", and basic education department deputy director-general Granville Whittle said teachers with comorbidities who declined to be vaccinated would not be penalised.

However, if they were still working from home they would not be allowed to continue doing so, and would be expected to return to the classroom.

Rejecting calls for all schools to be shut down in response to the third wave, Motshekga said out of 25,517 schools, only about 100 had experienced a worrying number of infections.

"Let's handle the matter case by case," she said. In light of the loss of education children had suffered since March 2020, "people shouldn't expect us to shut down the system".