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Compulsory Vaccination Endangers Schools’ Operation, Teachers’ Organizations Say

Ábrahám Vass 2021.11.16.

A growing number of professionals worry that compulsory vaccination would have a devastating consequence on the operation of several schools, highlighting that while teachers’ overall vaccination rate is high, there are large differences across regions. Meanwhile, there is a double standard as private and church schools are exempt from obligatory inoculation.

Public education employees have until December 15 to receive their first dose of a covid vaccine. If they fail to do so, they will receive a notice to make up for the missed vaccination within 15 days, giving them until the end of December. Those who still refuse to get vaccinated will be sent on unpaid leave from then on. Their contract of work may be terminated after one year.

National Teachers’ Chamber leader: ‘Situation is worrying’

The president of the National Teachers’ Chamber (NPK) is concerned that those who have refused to be vaccinated so far will likely persist to not do so. And this naturally indicates a cause for concern, Péter Horváth says, explaining that

there will be schools and kindergartens, and more than one, where they will be practically unable to carry out their duties if some teachers drop out of the system. Although the national average [of vaccination] is very high among teachers, it isn’t uniform across the region, with some places only around 50-60%.”

Népszava‘s information seems to confirm a similar trend. In an unnamed school in a rural town, some 20 out of the 70 teachers haven’t yet been vaccinated, causing the school leader to fear for the school’s operation, according to the left-wing paper.

Likewise to teacher’s union PSZ, whose president thinks some 10% of teachers still need to get inoculated. Meanwhile, the union’s vice-president believes that the proportion of those refusing vaccination will be around 3-5%, a rate still equivalent to thousands of teaching professionals.

Double standards

While vaccination is compulsory in state-maintained institutions, this is not the case in those run by the church, or private schools (where the institution’s leader may have the final say).

According to the president of PSZ, one danger is that teachers refusing to be vaccinated may well move over to those schools instead. “This sets off a migration that isn’t good at all for the system during the school year because it upsets the timetable that has already been set up, which is very bad for the children,” Zsuzsa Szabó said.

Ministry to still consider revoking the bill?

Two weeks ago, both the Trade Union of Teachers (PSZ) and the Democratic Trade Union of Teachers (PDSZ) reported after an hours-long negotiation with the Ministry of Human Capacities (EMMI), that the government promised they would consider revocation of the bill. A few days later, the Ministry denied even thinking about this scenario.

However, according to the latest news, this is still on the agenda. Reportedly, the government will resume relevant talks with the trade unions on November 18.

Fact

Wage negotiations are similarly ongoing. But trade unions think the government’s proposal of 10% is “unacceptable” and “humiliating.” A solution, therefore, isn’t to be expected anytime soon.

featured image illustration via Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI