NSW Department of Education Secretary, Georgina Harrisson announced that the majority of NSW Department of Education staff will no longer have to be vaccinated for work.
Under the policy, from Monday, July 18, unvaccinated corporate staff will be able to return to corporate offices; schools can reengage unvaccinated or unattested active casual staff on a temporary or casual basis and unvaccinated staff who resigned or were dismissed will be able to reapply for advertised positions with the department.
Ms Harrisson, explained that the new policy was a result of a comprehensive independent workplace risk assessment.
This assessment factored in the latest health advice and role of various COVID-19 mitigation strategies in the current phase of the pandemic.
"With more than 120,000 staff, 850,000 students and 2300 work sites it was important that as the Public Health Orders were lifted, we undertook an independent review of our COVID work, health and safety settings." Ms Harrison said.
"We have taken the time that was needed in coming to this position to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students would not be compromised.
"As we move into Term 3, parents can be reassured that schools will remain safe places for their children and that face-to-face learning will be maintained.
Ms Harrisson added that under the new policy an additional 965 'active' casual staff could return to working at school sites and teaching staff who resigned or were terminated for not complying with the vaccine mandate could apply for advertised roles if they chose to do so next term.
Ms Harrisson also said that vaccination remained a key pillar of the department's response to COVID-19 and the proposed vaccine policy forms part of the department's COVID-smart measures for winter and Term 3.
These preventative measures include the supply of rapid antigen tests, enhanced cleaning and ventilation, alongside the expectation that unwell staff do not attend work.
However, the relaxed policy on vaccination does not apply to staff who work in Schools for Specific Purposes (SSPs) or support units; classes will be required to maintain up-to-date doses of COVID-19 vaccine, as will Assisted Travel Support Officers (ATSOs) and drivers. This means staff working in these settings will require a third booster dose to attend work.
The policy came as the NSW Health warned that two Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5, would soon become the state’s dominant strains. NSW Health said the new subvariants would likely prompt a further jump in infections – including among those who have already had COVID-19.