Last week we sent out through our Parent Portal, a community letter on the issue of vaccination. We hope you have been able to read the whole letter to give you a full perspective on how the Executive Leadership Team at MECS and Ranges TEC is thinking about this issue.
Below is an abridged version of this letter. If you haven’t read the full letter, this will give you a sense of how we are responding as a community, however, I strongly urge you to read the full letter as posted in the Parent Portal.
If you did read this letter last week, can I ask that as you read this extract again, that you be in prayer for not only our school community, but the wider community as well. These are tricky times, and we want to be grounded in God’s Word and prayer as we navigate the weeks and months ahead. Be assured, that as a school leadership team, our priority is to get your children back to school as we know it as soon as possible!
Dear Parents and Guardians,
Thanks for your continued prayerful support of our school community as we navigate the challenges of COVID-19; we are grateful for the many expressions of support and gratitude being expressed... We acknowledge that many people in the MECS and Ranges TEC community already think positively about vaccination against COVID-19, but we also understand that there are others who either do not like the notion of being vaccinated against COVID-19 and/or are opposed to mandatory vaccination. As school leaders we are concerned that these differences may threaten the wellbeing of our community. So, at the outset, we want to encourage you that wherever you are in your thinking, that the Gospel calls us to extend grace and kindness to all those around us irrespective of what they think.
As leaders of a Christian School we have to consider our response to vaccination against COVID-19 in a way that benefits the effective operation of the school. We fully expect that vaccination against COVID-19 will have a real and practical impact on our school functioning like normal. It is perhaps also worth saying that we do not have the option as an independent Christian School of opting out of a plethora of legal and regulatory requirements that exist for all schools.
One of the important concerns people have is that they are opposed to the idea that vaccination against COVID-19 will be made mandatory. We certainly affirm that mandatory vaccination is not something we would like to see. We have been doing our homework on this, listening to legal opinions, reading the advice of the Fair Work Ombudsman, and hearing what our law makers have to say. At this time, we can’t see how vaccinations could be made mandatory for students because it would seem impossible to enforce since going to school is mandatory. It may be that the Victorian government decides to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for school staff. While we would prefer that this not happen, we understand why they might choose to do so. This is because it is viewed as a work place safety issue. Authorities that oversee work place safety such as WorkSafe require that employers do everything they can to prevent death and disablement in the work place (in our case the onus falls on the Board and Executive). They may require that workers in schools be protected from contracting a disease that is potentially fatal (even if the chance of death is small).
Let’s come back to where we started – grace and kindness. As a school community there are a range of views about vaccination against COVID-19. We ask that each of us remembers that this school is grounded in the Gospel. That gospel brings with it love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. So, let us respond to each other in these days out of those beautiful things and not out of anger, resentment or fear. It is this commitment to living out biblical values in the life of our school community that has served us well for over nearly 50 years.
As always, we continue to uphold your family in prayer. May you know the comfort and enabling of the Holy Spirit at this time and may you bring a message of hope and joy to those around you each day.
The Executive Team, MECS and Ranges TEC