The principal of a Perth school who threatened to close the college over Covid-19 vaccine mandates has pledged to pay unvaccinated teachers who choose not to get the jab.
Divine Mercy College principal and founder Adam Zydek reportedly told teachers at the school last week he would rather close it than comply with the state government's mandates.
However, in a letter sent to parents on Monday, the Perth educator confirmed the independent Catholic school will not be closing — but slammed West Australian Premier Mark McGowan over the “heavy handed” vaccination mandate.
“The college’s view is it would rather close than compel a person to accept a Covid-19 vaccine against their will," Mr Zydek wrote in the letter.
“That is still the position but, thankfully we’re able to take a different course that will insulate our vaccine-hesitant staff from the premier’s heavy-handedness."
Furious over premier's 'decision to coerce teachers'
Mr Zydek continued saying the school "does not take a position on vaccines" and is not anti-vax, but lashed out at Mr McGowan for "threatening" teachers with the mandate.
"[Divine Mercy College] neither encourages nor discourages staff to accept a vaccine because that, like all medical interventions, should be a matter of choice for each individual, particularly when accepting a vaccine involves some level of risk,” he wrote.
“We see the Covid-19 vaccines, and an individual teacher’s decision to accept one, in precisely that way.
“In keeping with that view, the college abhors the premier’s decision to coerce teachers to accept a medical intervention by threatening them with the loss of their livelihoods, and their capacity to pursue their God-given vocation.”
The school will hire temporary teachers
The principal said the school has made the decision to financially support teachers who choose not to get a Covid jab and will hold their positions so that they can return to teaching when the "foreshadowed public health direction ceases to operate."
“To maintain our current educational offering, we are obliged to hire additional staff to replace those who won’t be able to teach for all or part of next year, those people will be offered temporary contracts only so that they do not displace our unvaccinated staff," he explained.
WA announced a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy in October for a majority of occupations and workforces.
All school staff will require a double dose of the Covid vaccine before the start of Term One 2022.
Education Minister Sue Ellery told reporters on Thursday Mr Zydek was "effectively abusing" his position as a principal by forcing his personal views against the public health advice onto teachers.
“Not only is he effectively breaching the public health orders, he has frightened his staff by threatening their jobs, and he has frightened his school community and the parents by suggesting to them their children will not be able to continue at this school,” she said.
Anti-Covid vaccination mandate bill rejected
One Nation’s controversial Covid-19 Vaccination Status (Prevention of Discrimination) Bill 2021 was rejected in the Senate on Monday.
The anti-vaccination bill was introduced to the Senate by One Nation's Pauline Hanson and would prevent vaccination mandates amid the pandemic.
Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie slammed the bill —which an overwhelming majority voted down — accusing One Nation of thriving on discrimination and creating fear to boost its election campaign.
“If you’re able to get vaccinated, and you choose not to, discrimination is the wrong word,” Senator Lambie said.
“You have freedom to make the choice but if you make a choice, those choices have consequences.”
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.