Public education employees are still unsatisfied with the protection and support the government is providing. One of the teacher’s unions is now demanding answers about their vaccination schedule and additional help, while nursery and kindergarten employees want vaccination priority, along with regular testing since kindergartens have remained open.
It was last Thursday when the government announced the new restrictions that brought school and kindergarten closures (universities and secondary schools had been ordered to continue teaching well before that). This was something teacher’s unions had long wanted.
Daycare has resumed, and since the government wants to recommence with onsite learning in a few weeks, means that public education workers will soon be at high risk for infection.
In an open letter addressed to both the Minister of Human Capacities and the Minister of Innovation and Technology, the Trade Union of Teachers (PSZ) now demands answers as to whether those teachers who asked to be vaccinated would be inoculated during the closures and/or until the end of the spring break (depending on the type of vaccine, and of course on other factors too, as one month is required after getting the jab to achieve immunity as of current information).
PSZ has also been asking the government for 100% sick leave pay for those who caught the virus in schools. However, this was in vain, and many institutions were forced to remain open while officially, closures have been ordered.
Their letter adds that teachers also feel left behind because the government failed to provide help and support with the switch to digital teaching and nothing has changed in disadvantaged areas either. In addition, they have long wanted the government to finally pay a one-off HUF 100,000 (EUR 273) to those who were forced to buy tools needed for digital education.
According to a survey
, teachers on average have spent roughly HUF 51,000 (EUR 139) out of their own pockets for tools needed for online teaching (while they notoriously earn very little).
The aforementioned new restrictions in effect as of this Monday, haven’t ordered nurseries to close, meaning they are still receiving children. Somewhat less surprisingly, the Democratic Trade Union of Nursery Employees (BDDSZ) also fear for the workers too and want vaccination priority. In their reasoning, they argue that social distancing in their profession is impossible. Also, although there is no testing under the age of three, kids still can get infected and carry the virus. They insist that both testing and vaccination would be the government’s job, independent of the institution’s maintainer.
Both the European Commission and WHO earlier recommended for public education personnel to be prioritized in vaccination due to their exposure.
Anyhow, the government’s stance seems unchanged on the matter for now. Earlier, relevant authorities such as the Ministry of Human Capacities, the Operative Board, and the secretary in charge of public education matters, all claimed that vaccination goes according to age groups and since the teaching community is an aging one, many have already gotten the vaccine, an argument that both PSZ and PDSZ labeled as ‘cynical.’
At his regular press briefing on Thursday, the PMO Head was evasive and gave a similar explanation. Gergely Gulyás declared that they will continue to proceed according to the Operative Board’s plan and since the elderly are the most at risk, everyone else comes after them.
Featured photo illustration by Attila Balázs/MTI