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Mandatory COVID-19 vaccine and 2021 forward plan

16 November 2021

Note: The Emergency Management (Education and Early Childhood Settings Vaccination) (COVID-19) Direction 2021 detailed below applies to ALL early childhood services and schools not just Department for Education sites.

We received this information from the Chief Executive of the Department for Education on 16 November 2021.

From 23 November our borders will open and we expect there will be COVID-19 in our community.

The Commissioner of Police, acting in his role as the State Coordinator responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, has announced the Emergency Management (Education and Early Childhood Settings Vaccination) (COVID-19) Direction 2021.

Under this Direction, COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for all people who work at an education and early childhood setting, except those who have a medical exemption endorsed by the Chief Public Health Officer. This includes:

  • all Department for Education employees and contractors
  • anyone who visits a Department for Education site for work purposes
  • all Governing Council members and employees
  • all Department for Education volunteers / parent helpers (people who assist with reading, camps, excursions, canteen, fundraising etc)
  • OSHC providers/employees who work on our sites
  • Department for Education contracted bus drivers and transport providers
  • Family Day care employees.

Under this Direction, all of the above-mentioned people must receive at least 1 dose of a Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) approved COVID-19 vaccination and a booking to receive a second dose by 10 December 2021.

NB: this Direction does not include students or parents who do not work/volunteer at the school, preschool or children’s centre, playgroups or play centres off site, delivery drivers, people responding to urgent maintenance tasks or an emergency situation.

While the vast majority of staff have been vaccinated, I appreciate that this decision will be very difficult for some. It is not taken lightly. It is based on health advice and is the best overall setting for our students, staff and education system.

As always, our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to staff who would like to use it.

What you need to do

If you are fully vaccinated and have already recorded your vaccination status on EIK, thank you.

If you haven’t recorded your vaccination status on EIK, you are required to do so by no later than 5.00pm on 23 November 2021. This is to enable compliance with the Emergency Management Direction, which allows for proof of vaccination status upon request.

All employees will receive an email and/or letter from the People & Culture Division confirming these requirements.

For those who haven’t yet recorded their vaccination status on EIK, have recorded that they don’t intend to be vaccinated, or that they have a medical exemption, this letter will provide further information about what’s required of you.

Now that there is an Emergency Management Direction in place, site leaders and line managers will need to know who in their teams are not vaccinated or have approved medical exemptions to be able to comply with the Direction. As we get closer to 10 December 2021, site leaders and corporate line managers will be provided the EIK vaccination record for their team members for appropriate action.

You will also need to provide COVID-19 vaccination evidence to your leader or manager. This can be the paper vaccination records or your digital Medicare record. Your evidence will be sighted, but not stored at this stage. We are working out whether we are required to maintain evidence of your vaccination certificate. We’ll let you know. 

From 11 December

If you do not have an exemption endorsed by the Chief Public Health Officer (or can’t provide evidence you are in the process of getting one) or have not had at least 1 dose of the COVID-19 vaccination by 10 December, you will not be able to work or perform your duties.

You will need to apply for recreation, retention, long service leave or leave without pay. Sick leave and COVID-19 special leave with pay is not available for this purpose. 

If you have any questions, please read our FAQs on our website. You can also call our COVID-19 hotline on 8226 2000 or education.whs [at] sa.gov.au.

I will run an all staff webinar at 4.00pm today to clarify these requirements and answer some of your questions. A link will be provided in a separate email.

COVID-19 plan for the remainder of 2021

As our borders open and COVID-19 enters our community we will continue to follow health advice, just as we have done throughout this pandemic.

Our forward operating plan outlines the settings for our schools and preschools from 23 November 2021 through to the end of the year. The settings are largely the same as we have relied on and thoroughly tested throughout the pandemic. They have put us in the strong position we are in now. But we must be prepared to be flexible and adapt to changes – such as reintroducing face masks – if SA Health require it.

Please continue to follow the latest COVID-19 advice on EDi. We will talk more about our settings for 2022 in the coming weeks and months.