Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Church staff, volunteers - exactly who is covered by the education vaccine mandate?

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Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Church staff, volunteers - exactly who is covered by the education vaccine mandate?

Staff at churches that share a building or campus with a school must be vaccinated if they will be there at the same time as students, the Ministry of Education says.

The Ministry last night clarified exactly who is included in the education sector’s “no jab, no job” order.

On the list are those who work or volunteer in an organisation in the same campus or building as a school or early learning service – with churches and cafes given as examples.

That could mean prominent church leaders Brian Tamaki and Peter Mortlock could face being barred from their own church grounds unless they get the jab.

The mandate is intended to prevent or slow the spread of Covid within schools.

Vaccinated staff are much less likely to catch or get sick from Covid and thus less likely to spread it to each other or to students.

While it’s rare for children to get seriously ill from the virus it does happen – and those who have issues like respiratory illness are at higher risk.

Children can also spread the virus to family members who may be unvaccinated or vulnerable.

But there are concerns that several thousand people within the education system are resisting the mandate.

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Church staff, volunteers - exactly who is covered by the education vaccine mandate?

Schools must have a staff vaccine register by November 9, and after November 15 people who have not had their first dose won’t be allowed on site.

While most churches actively support vaccination, some prominent church leaders have come out against the mandates.

They include City Impact Church’s Pastor Peter Mortlock and Destiny Church leader Bishop Brian Tamaki – who is facing charges over recent protests against lockdowns and vaccine mandates.

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Church staff, volunteers - exactly who is covered by the education vaccine mandate?

Bishop Brian Tamaki preaching at Destiny Church in Wiri in 2018. Photo / Michael Craig

Both could potentially be required to get vaccinated or face being barred from their respective churches during school hours – as they have schools on site.

Destiny Church has a private school within its church complex in Wiri.

City Impact runs several childcare services at church sites and has a school on site at its Albany branch.

Mortlock has previously declined to tell the Herald if he is vaccinated against Covid, saying it was a private matter.

He told the Herald today via email that City Impact was “working through all these new / and ever-shifting ‘rules’, just as everyone is”.

There was a lot of detail yet to be released and questions to be answered for clarity, he wrote.

“We obviously want to work with and in with the regulations and are working with all our staff and facilities to do so.

“As you know this is a very stressful time for a lot of people, students included, and we will be ensuring everyone’s safety.”

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Church staff, volunteers - exactly who is covered by the education vaccine mandate?

City Impact Church Pastor Peter Mortlock says the church is still working through the rules.

Tamaki posted to Facebook on August 18 saying he and his wife Hannah Tamaki had chosen not to be vaccinated “at this time”.

Asked for a response to the mandate affecting church staff, Destiny Church spokeswoman Anne Williamson said the church had no comment at this stage.

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Church staff, volunteers - exactly who is covered by the education vaccine mandate?

Many other churches have been actively encouraging their congregations to get vaccinated, including busing parishioners to vaccination centres and preaching the virtue of vaccines from the pulpit.

And there’s further encouragement from the new traffic light system, which will give religious groups freedom to gather in larger numbers if they use vaccine certificates.

But RNZ reports that while the majority are pro-vaccination, some churches have concerns about turning away unvaccinated members of their congregation at the door.

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Church staff, volunteers - exactly who is covered by the education vaccine mandate?

People included in the education vaccine mandate

• Teachers

• Principals

• Teacher aides

• Administration staff

• Caretakers

• Cooks

• Learning support staff and other education agency staff (eg NZQA invigilators, ERO staff)

• Board members – if they are at school at the same time as students

• Hostel workers (paid or unpaid)

• Ministry-funded school transport drivers

• Employees / volunteers that provide a service at an education site – eg Life Education caravans, Ka Ora, Ka Ako (free school lunch) providers, social workers

• After-school care / out-of-hours music lessons if contracted by the school

• Volunteers including parents or caregivers – unless they are working off-site and won’t be in contact with students

• Employees/contractors/volunteers for a school who provide an educational service off-site (e.g. alternative education providers, activity centres, teen parent units)

• Attendance advisers

• Workers & volunteers from another organisation that shares a building or campus with the school and will have contact with children or be present at the same time as them – e.g. churches and cafes

• Student volunteers and those on placement

• Union representatives – if present at the same time as children

• Residential therapeutic and respite facilities that deliver onsite education (e.g. Oranga Tamariki youth justice residences)

• Families that are contracted to the school to provide homestays for national or international students (it’s unclear if all family members over 12 must be vaccinated)

• People attending playgroups on a school or ECE site while students are attending the ECE or school

• Parents or caregivers attending specialist early learning services with their children to support them, while other students are there

• Secondary-tertiary partnership providers

Not included in the education vaccine mandate

Some of these individuals may be mandated to get vaccinated through another health order.

• General/public bus or train drivers (including council-funded school services) if not employed or engaged by the school

• People living on hostel or school grounds who aren’t workers

• Board members who only come to the school when children aren’t there (eg evening board meetings) or meet via Zoom

• Employees of a contracted service on-site when children aren’t present – eg weekend lawn-mowing, tradespeople outside school hours

• Afterschool care or out-of-hours music providers run by private companies not engaged by the school

• Employees or volunteers for education outside the classroom – e.g. libraries, school camps, museum staff – who are not working or contracted to the school (Schools are still encouraged to check their vaccination status as part of general health and safety.)

• People who provide an educational service off-site at a marae or other significant cultural site and are not directly employed / contracted by the school or hostel

• Parents / caregivers dropping off, picking up or settling kids at school

• Parents / caregivers coming to meetings or events on site, like parent-teacher interviews

• Teachers who only work remotely and never see kids in person

• General public using facilities like pools, playgrounds after hours

• People responding to an on-site emergency (e.g. burst water pipe) – although schools are encouraged to ask regular tradespeople about their vaccine status

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