Govt mulls stern action against unvaccinated teachers

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Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Education Department has decided to take stern action against the teachers, who are not willing to take vaccination for COVID-19 even a month after schools reopened in the State after a spell of long lockdown.

Medical boards will be constituted to examine those teachers who have not taken the vaccines citing health issues.

Those who do not get clearance from the medical board will have to take vaccines. If they show any further reluctance to take vaccines, such teachers will be booked under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

The Education Department would discuss the issue with the high-level COVID-19 expert committee in the State and the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority.

State Education minister V Sivankutty had said that stern action would be taken against the unvaccinated teachers. He said the government would discourage such teachers from coming to the schools. The government is also planning to ask them to go on compulsory leave.

At the same time, the Education Department is apprehensive whether it would be legally feasible to act against the unvaccinated teachers on the basis of the Disaster Management Act.  The government  can invoke provisions of the Disaster Management Act only if there exists an order issued by the government making the vaccination compulsory for teachers and government servants.

It is not sure whether the COVID-19 guidelines issued by the State Government before the reopening of schools would be considered as an order issued as per the Disaster Management Act.

The teachers cite reasons such as serious health issues, religious issues and allergic trouble for not taking vaccines. 

Confusion over number of unvaccinated teachers

Meanwhile, confusion prevails at the official level over the exact number of teachers who have not taken vaccines as of now.

The State Government is saying that the number of such teachers is around 5,000. But the government's own estimate just before the reopening of schools was that there were 2,609 unvaccinated teachers. But it is not clear how there is such a quantum jump in the number just in just one month.

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