Western Cape Education Minister, Debbie Schafer, says more than 75% of educators have given their consent for the vaccination. Schafer was speaking at the official launch of the vaccination site in Pinelands outside Cape Town.
It is one of the 29 for teaching staff throughout the province.
As of Monday, the number of active COVID-19 cases reported by the Western Cape province’s schools are 249 school staff, with 558 learners having tested positive. The province will have an access to 55 200 vaccine doses for its teachers. Schafer says the jabs are expected to bring some stabilisation to the sector.
“Its been very difficult for our teachers and schools, we had to manage a lot of fears, their own fears, teachers’, parent’s fears and also trying to work differently in schools, trying to do the timetabling differently, trying to teach classes half, its been very difficult and I hope its gonna alleviate a lot of anxiety and off course keep our people safer,” she says.
Teacher Union, Sadtu, has welcomed the move – saying they’ve been calling for the vaccination of teachers for a long time. Provincial Secretary, Jonovan Rustin, says they want to encourage those that are still hesitant.
“I’ve been following social media and the teachers are saying we want the vaccine, in the union, we did a survey across all teachers in the country and more than 78% say they want the vaccine, now that it has arrived we are gonna work together with the department to do some advocacy to make sure that everybody gets the jab,” says Rustin.
About 26 000 vaccines have been delivered to the province so far. The sites at Pinelands and Bellville in the Cape Metro are the largest – expected to administer over 1 000 doses per day.
In Gauteng, reports of wrong vaccines being administered on education sector workers were reported in the morning.
However, the education department released a statement in the evening, rejecting the claims.
“It needs to be noted that some of the sites allocated for the vaccination of the education sector workers in Gauteng also administer the vaccine under the Health Department’s campaign to vaccinate those over the age of 60. For the record, the education sector workers are being inoculated with the Johnson & Johnson single dose jab; while the over-60s campaign is being rolled out using the Pfizer vaccine. The miscommunication which took place related to the delivery of the vaccine to the incorrect section at the correct site; and the matter was swiftly resolved before any vaccine was administered to any of our employees,” said the provincial education department in a statement.
Teachers in the North West have expressed their gratitude for the vaccination programme. The provincial campaign was launched at Boitekong near Rustenburg.
Local educators flocked to the local clinic to receive their Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
About 26 vaccination sites have been identified across the province. These are mainly at district hospitals, community health centres and clinics.
Those who received the jab, say they are relieved that they will be able to carry out their duties without any fear.
“There are basically no side effects, I think for me injection is just the injection itself. What I can just say to those that are still planning to inject I will really motivate them to take this thing very seriously.”
“I am here to receive my vaccination. I am a teacher and am in contact with a lot of kids and I think that the sooner that all of us can be vaccinated the sooner we get rid of this virus.”
Teacher unions, Naptosa and Sadtu in the province, have also welcomed the initiative. But Secretary for Naptosa, Tshwanelo Mmutlana, says the education authorities must work on resolving the minor glitches that occurred.
“We heard that there was a problem in this regard. You’ll find one or two teachers who are not on a database but we are seeing the department coming on board and registering with people with the forms. So there is a plan, so the plan that is there look at challenges that could emanate at the side.”
Secretary for Sadtu in the province, Else Themba, says the department must ensure that teachers in far-flung areas are not forgotten.
“We think that the department knowing the geography of the North West they will have to work very closely with schools to make sure that the vaccination sites are close to the school or alternatively the educators are able to be ferried to the vaccination sites so that they are able to reach the target they are intending to reach.”
Meanwhile, the MEC for Education, Wendy Matsemela, says the programme will not affect teaching and learning activities.
“According to our plan, the way we have planned as the Department of Education. We have given all the districts a plan so once teachers are here it means learners are not in our schools for today. For the schools that are here in particular according to our plan and that on its own says, the teaching time that we have lost it cannot be recovered because in most cases when we lose time we are working on a recovery plan.”
COVID-19 Vaccine rollout | Start of the education sector vaccine programme:
Meanwhile, chaos erupted at a vaccination site in Bloemfontein as hundreds of teachers and non-teaching staff turned up at the Gonyane Primary School to be vaccinated.
The departments of Education and Health aimed to vaccinate 500 teachers on the first day.
Hundreds of teachers responded to the government’s call to get vaccinated. As the day progressed, things got out of control as teachers pushed one another to be let inside the school hall. This meant that social distancing was not observed. Some of the teachers complained that there was no proper planning for the vaccination process.
“We are unhappy about the whole situation they told us we are going to get inside according to the programme they allocated us time. Now things are so disrupted. There’re no social distancing, there’s no marshal’s, no social distancing everything is out of order,” said one teacher.
“We are unhappy because the MEC was here, the HOD was also here but we are treated like unprofessionals look at us, look at us as teachers, we are here we don’t have social distancing most of us are sick here. Already we do have the virus now,” added another.
MEC for Education, Tate Makgoe, spent the entire day at the vaccination centre where he was also vaccinated. Makgoe says their plan was compromised by the message the teachers received.
“But apparently yesterday somebody said to them let’s go vaccines may finish, so everybody decided to come today. So we’ve got a lot of people that we were not expecting but however, I think it’s important to remember that Bloemfontein has been one of the areas that is hard hit with coronavirus. And you can understand the anxiety, people are anxious to get the vaccine. They just need to make sure that they get the vaccine that they must be healthy, they must social distance. So we have asked some of them to say to them look you can go back, you can come tomorrow and they said no they want it today.”
Free State Premier, Sisi Ntombela, expressed her gratitude to the teachers who continued to be in the forefront to help in the fight against COVID-19.
“When days were dark when everybody was saying schools must close these are the people that stood very firm and said the school must reopen. These are the people that stood very firm and protected the education of our children. These are the soldiers that said we are going to assist our government to fight this war of COVID-19. So today at least it is them who are being vaccinated I’m very much happy and excited about it,” she said.
More than 800 teachers were vaccinated at the Gonyane Primary School on Wednesday. The Free State Department of Education says it plans to vaccinate its entire workforce of 32 000 in the next 10 days.
COVID-19 Vaccine rollout | Rollout for teaching staff begins in different provinces: