Primary Ethics volunteers must now be vaccinated for Covid-19

3 September 2021

There is an important new requirement from the Department of Education. Primary Ethics volunteer teachers must now be vaccinated for Covid-19 when ethics classes return to schools (which we expect to be in Term 1 in 2022.)

The Department of Education now requires everyone working in schools – including all teaching staff, student teachers and volunteers – to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (see addendum below).

As an ethics teacher, this is a further conditional requirement* for teaching ethics in NSW schools, in the same way that doing a Working with Children Check and Annual Child Protection Training are requirements.

Primary Ethics fully supports the community-wide effort to return to normal as soon as possible. Being fully vaccinated and following all local conditions on masks, distancing and QR check-ins will be a normal part of being a volunteer anywhere for the foreseeable future, including at schools.

Many of us are already fully vaccinated, or well on the way. Let’s all get ready for our return to classrooms by getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

We will share details about how schools will check vaccination status as soon as we know how that will work.

*Here is an excellent article by our Board member Simon Longstaff of The Ethics Centre on conditional requirements: Vaccines: compulsory or conditional?

What if I don’t want to be vaccinated?
We understand it is possible some volunteers will make the choice not to be vaccinated.

To be crystal clear:

  • Vaccination as a condition to enter schools has been set by the Department of Education.
  • This is not a condition that volunteers can negotiate with Primary Ethics.

We can offer no alternative options for volunteers in this situation, other than to raincheck your status until you feel able to vaccinate and return to the classroom or to withdraw from teaching. You can do either of those through the Help & Support tab in EVIE or by contacting your coordinator. Of course we are very sorry to lose any volunteers and wish you well.

What if I am a coordinator and do not plan to visit schools?
Ethics coordinators must be able to visit schools as part of their role. Non-teaching coordinators will also need to fulfil the vaccination requirement.

Addendum: Advisory from Department of Education, 30 August, 2021: 
“All NSW public school and preschool staff will be required to be fully vaccinated by 8 November 2021. Staff includes department employees, contractors, third party providers, volunteers or university/tertiary students undertaking practical placements on school sites. This means that all SRE/SEE personnel once we return to Level 2 […] will be required to show evidence of vaccination status before they can commence work on a school site.”