What do we do with these teachers?

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Teachers have three loves: love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two loves together.

Scott Hayden, American composer

So, we have some 2,500, perhaps more, anti-vaxxing teachers in the country who are giving the authorities a headache by their refusal to get vaccinated.

What’s wrong with these people? Aren’t they supposed to be a role model? Don’t they realise they are one of the most influential people in a student’s life?

The next important people to children after their parents are the teachers; children will first learn from teachers who guide them through the early crucial learning stages. Teachers not only watch their students grow; they help them grow.

As a role model, teachers inspire and encourage the young to aim for greatness and guide them to bring out the best in themselves. Next to parents, children look up to teachers for advice.

Therefore, it’s very discouraging to have teachers, despite numerous appeals from various organisations — and concerned parents — stubbornly refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19 not only for their own good but also for the safety of the students.

It’s therefore heartening to note Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announce on Sept 3 that he planned to make vaccination mandatory for teachers. But first he will discuss the plan with the Education Ministry to sort out the legal implications.

Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin was right when he announced earlier last week that teachers who refused to be vaccinated would be barred from interacting with students face-to-face after schools reopen on Oct 3. This is to ensure the safety of the students.

Recently, my newspaper conducted a simple survey to get the views of parents about teachers who refused to be vaccinated. All those interviewed insisted that teachers must be vaccinated; there’s no two ways about it, like it or not they must be jabbed!

One of them, a technician had this to say: “Certainly, all teachers should be vaccinated as it’s their responsibility to see to the students’ wellbeing. Just imagine the consequences if an unvaccinated teacher contracted the virus. It puts everyone at risk.”

I understand the right of these teachers to turn down the vaccine. But aren’t they being selfish? What about the right of their colleagues who have taken the jab?

And what about the right of the students to safety? Doesn’t that matter to the anti-vaxxing teachers?

These teachers are a danger to themselves and their loved ones as well.

It’s good that Khairy is looking into making it compulsory for teachers to be vaccinated.

And Radzi, while warning that unvaccinated teachers would not be allowed to teach students in person, said they would be reassigned to other tasks. However, this might not be a good decision.

It could be an easy way out for some of these teachers as they could just be wishing for that — to be allocated to other duties and tasks which could be less taxing and easier. So, it defeats the whole purpose.

Also, it could be misinterpreted as impotence on the part of the authorities. The proper thing is to be firm and insist on them being vaccinated under threat of dismissal from service and losing their pension or whatever benefits.

The government must find a way to effectively deal with this problem.

Honestly, I am disappointed that even learned people behave in such a manner. These teachers are undermining their duty of care; everyone knows that in the absence of the parent at school, the teacher automatically becomes a parent.

Unvaccinated teachers are a threat to the students. They should understand that at the moment vaccines are an excellent measure of protection against severe illness from the coronavirus.

Everyone — teachers included — has a responsibility to slow the spread of Covid-19 and prevent too many people from becoming seriously ill. As it is now, our healthcare resource has been outstripped, why aggravate the situation further?

Teachers, please get this into your system: You are not vaccinating just for yourselves, but also for those around you, your families and those who medically cannot be vaccinated.

I was also made to understand by my Muslim cousin sister — a secondary school teacher — that religious reasons could be behind the refusal of these teachers in Malaya to be vaccinated.

Nevertheless, states in Malaya have already issued fatwa or religious edicts that the Covid-19 vaccination is permissible for Muslims, therefore the public should not have doubts about receiving the vaccine.

Meanwhile, here is a piece of good news. Sarawak Disaster Management Committee chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas has announced that teenagers under 18 will get vaccinated starting Sept 8.

Parents should take this opportunity and have their children vaccinated.

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