By Laura Mills of Star News
Gloriavale Christian Community school teachers have joined the community’s midwives and accepted their Covid vaccinations.
Under the Government mandate, the teachers would have had to have been stood down yesterday if they were not vaccinated.
Gloriavale shepherd Fervent Stedfast was busy yesterday morning, but a source told the Greymouth Star the teachers had been vaccinated.
Fewer than 300 in the 600-strong community were eligible. Many were under 12.
Almost two weeks ago, West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor visited Gloriavale, at Lake Haupiri, and delivered a firm and clear message that all eligible New Zealanders needed to get vaccinated to beat Covid.
Gloriavale has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
Government grants of more than $2 million go annually towards the running of Gloriavale’s Year 1 to 13 school and preschool.
A snapshot poll of principals’ associations has found about one teacher in 50 was not vaccinated as of Tuesday’s deadline – while one in 25 support staff had also not had the jab.
Those vaccination rates – 98 per cent for teachers and 96 per cent for support staff – are much better than the New Zealand average of just over 90 per cent.
But their loss is still causing staffing issues for some schools, with some principals calling for more support to navigate the employment process.
Children under 12 can’t yet be vaccinated, so having all school staff vaccinated is considered essential to help lower the risk of students catching Covid.
Just over half of schools (54 per cent) had 100 per cent of staff with at least one dose of the vaccine, according to New Zealand Principals’ Federation president Perry Rush. The remainder had at least one staff member who was not yet vaccinated.
“Results show pleasingly high Covid vaccination compliance rates in our schools across the motu,” Rush wrote in his newsletter to principals on Friday.
And high numbers of staff had had their first vaccination over the weekend so they could keep teaching – with many principals reporting that the deadline was “a helpful incentive”.
– Additional reporting by NZ Herald reporter Dubby Henry
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