Vaccination against Covid-19

Policy 2022

Forming part of: Giant Steps Tasmania’s Health & Safety Manual

Vaccination against Covid-19 Policy, 2022
Forming part of: Giant Steps Tasmania’s Health & Safety Manual

Policy Statement
Giant Steps Tasmania supports the Tasmanian Department of Education’s Draft (as of
November 2021) Policy on Mandatory Full Vaccination against Covid-19 for those employed
in schools in order to “provide continuity of service provision to Tasmanian learners and …
create safer workplaces that protect employees, learners, families and the general
community from the risk of COVID-19.”

As an independent school, catering solely for the needs of students on the Autism
Spectrum, Giant Steps Tasmania recognises that its students and staff are at even greater
risk of infection than the general school population in the State and that it therefore needs
to have measures in place to mitigate these risks.

The reasons that students and staff at Giant Steps Tasmania are at greater risk of infection
are firstly that students with ASD may have trouble understanding or following safety
measures. Secondly, early symptoms may be overlooked because students with ASD may
not be able to communicate their discomfort. Thirdly, students at Giant Steps Tasmania
travel from a range of locations around the State’s north, requiring bus transport and many
students are dual-enrolled, meaning they come into contact with a number of people.
Furthermore, if a person with ASD gets COVID-19, they may have a difficult time being in
hospital and receiving treatments that are unfamiliar, uncomfortable and, therefore,
potentially frightening and de-stabilising. Most importantly, as noted by the authors of
the NEJM Catalyst report, people with ASD are more likely to have other health problems,
including heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, that put them at higher risk of infection from
COVID-19 and also at greater risk of complications and death following infection.

Once Covid infections occur in educational settings, lockdowns and school closures result in
well-documented disruption to student learning and family members’ ability to continue to
work, resulting in wider economic and social impacts. It is also important to note that the level of adjustment for students at Giant Steps may not be replicable at home, meaning that student learning may be adversely impacted. In addition, a recent article from Australian researchers noted other impacts that lockdowns and isolation cause. “The enhanced social isolation accompanying the pandemic had a serious and damaging impact on autistic people’s mental health and subjective wellbeing.” https://journals.sagepub.com/d...

Giant Steps Tasmania will continue to implement its existing health and safety measures, while understanding that more highly-transmissible strains of the Covid-19 virus require additional measures to be implemented. Giant Steps Tasmania recognises its responsibility under the Tasmanian Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (sections 18 and 19) to ensure the health and safety of workers, through minimising risks to health and safety. If Giant Steps Tasmania permits unvaccinated adults to work on the premises, the school will not have fulfilled this vital responsibility. Giant Steps Tasmania also recognises that because of emerging variants and the variable trends of the disease’s manifestation, vaccination is vital to best protect everyone. Staff will therefore be required to maintain their immunity through booster shots as and when required by the Department of Health. The organisation understands that workers at Giant Steps Tasmania are classified as undertaking Tier 2 work (where employees are required to have close contact with people who are particularly vulnerable to the health impacts of coronavirus). Therefore considering all of the fore-going, Giant Steps Tasmania has undertaken a Risk Assessment which informs this policy and which is provided as an addendum to this policy. This Risk Assessment has resulted in Giant Steps Tasmania requiring all adults who wish to work at the school in any capacity to be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine against Covid-19 within the timeframe specified below.

Who the policy refers to
· Anyone employed by Giant Steps Tasmania in any capacity (full-time or part-time,
permanent or casual, as an administrator, cleaner, aide, teacher or therapist); or
· A contractor or subcontractor paid by Giant Steps Tasmania to work on-site; or
· An apprentice or trainee working on-site at Giant Steps Tasmania; or
· A student gaining work experience at Giant Steps Tasmania; or
· A volunteer at Giant Steps Tasmania; or
· A member of the Board of Giant Steps Tasmania who comes onto the premises
Please note: Adults who can supply a Vaccine Medical Exemption Form, completed by a
registered medical practitioner, are not required to be fully vaccinated. Adults who are
exempt from vaccination are required to wear a fitted face covering at all times while onsite at Giant Steps Tasmania and maintain all hygiene protocols in place.

Definitions
Approved COVID-19 Vaccine = a vaccine that is registered for use in respect of COVID-19 by
the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and is considered by the TGA to be a
‘recognised vaccine’ in respect of COVID-19. These vaccines, as of December 2021, include
Comirnaty (Pfizer), Spikevax (Moderna) and Vaxzevira (AstraZeneca).
Fitted face covering = a covering that fits securely around the face and is designed to be
worn over the nose and mouth to provide protection against the infection.
Fully Vaccinated = having obtained the manufacturer’s recommended dosage of an
Approved Vaccine. This definition may be updated to reflect future public health advice on
boosters.
Vaccine Medical Exemption Form = Official form issued by Health Department and
completed and signed by a registered medical professional. These official exemptions only grant exemptions for the specific range of medical situations identified by the relevant expert medical group, and must be recorded on the official form and registered in the correct way. A letter from a doctor does not qualify as grounds for exemption.

Purpose
While acknowledging the continued existence of the Covid-19 virus and the dangers that it
poses to students, staff and families, Giant Steps Tasmania aims to provide the safe
continuation of services to students of Giant Steps Tasmania by ensuring the optimum
protection of all adults on-site at the school. Giant Steps Tasmania views the optimum protection of adults working at the school as an essential element of its duty of care to its students.

Implementation
Giant Steps Tasmania’s Administration Assistants will keep a staff list and record the vaccination status of all staff.

All staff employed by Giant Steps Tasmania as of December 17th, 2021, will be required to
provide to the principal evidence that they are fully vaccinated by January 27th, 2022.
Evidence of vaccination will consist of showing a Covid-19 Digital Certificate either on a
device or as a printout.

Where an employee has not submitted evidence that they are fully vaccinated by the
required date they will not be able to attend work, will be stood aside and will not be paid.
These employees will be offered 8 weeks of leave without pay to allow them time to comply with the policy.

Employees who are on authorised leave on the required date will not be able to return to
work at the end of their leave period if they have not provided evidence of full vaccination
and will be stood aside and not paid from the date they were due to return to work.

Eligible employees, who have not met the required level of vaccination may be able to
negotiate access to any owed long service leave or any accrued annual leave. If these
employees have not submitted evidence of their full vaccination on their return from leave,
they will then be eligible for the 8 weeks leave without pay in order to comply with the policy.

Where an employee has been stood aside and continues to not provide evidence of
vaccination after a period of 8 weeks, they will be issued with a Lawful and Reasonable
Direction to comply with the vaccination requirement.
Please note: The Fair Work Ombudsman’s view regarding the reasonableness of a direction
to be vaccinated to Tier 2 workers is that “an employer’s direction to employees performing
Tier 1 or Tier 2 work is more likely to be reasonable, given the increased risk of employees
being infected with coronavirus, or giving coronavirus to a person who is particularly
vulnerable to the health impacts of coronavirus.”
https://coronavirus.fairwork.g...
vaccinations-and-the-workplace/covid-19-vaccinations-workplace-rights-and-obligations
Please note: Failure to comply with a Lawful and Reasonable Direction may result in
termination of employment.

From January 27th, 2022, all new workers (including employees, volunteers and contractors) must provide evidence of full vaccination prior to commencing duty or entering the premises of Giant Steps Tasmania. Volunteers and contractors will be required to show their COVID-19 Digital Certificate to the relevant Administration Assistant to be able to carry out work/activities on the Giant Steps Tasmania Campus.

The principal will not engage or appoint any worker who has not provided the required
evidence that they are fully vaccinated; and will take all reasonable steps to ensure that a
worker does not enter, or remain on, the premises if the worker has not provided the
prescribed evidence that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In accordance with the Personal Information Protection Act 2004, all information provided
by employees under this policy will be treated confidentially and will not be stored. It will
only be used for the purposes of determining compliance with the vaccination requirements.

This policy will be updated at least annually to reflect changes in Public Health advice and/or
directions, including future changes in approved vaccinations or vaccination booster
requirements.

Authorised by:

Paul Bowman

Position:

Chair of Board

Signature:

Date accepted:

Original policy developed by:

Chris Jacobsen

Position:

Fairlight Educational Consulting

Date Original Policy developed:

Date of last review:

N/A (New Policy)

Staff consultation period:

December 2021

Revisions prepared by:

Chris Jacobsen, Fairlight Educational Consulting

Date of next review:

December 2022

Addendum

Risk Rating Matrix

Risk Management Plan