Catholic school principal says government lacks compassion


A Catholic school principal claims many educators suffered unnecessary stress ahead of the government’s vaccine mandate deadline.

The Government’s handling of the issue lacked compassion, says Jarlath Kelly (pictured) who is the principal of Invercargill’s Verdon College.

The Government’s implementation of the policy left a lot to be desired, he suggests.

While Kelly agrees vaccination is a way forward for the country, he says the way the Government implemented the mandate policy created significant challenges for individuals and schools.

This level of stress needn’t have occurred if there’d been a more planned, considered and compassionate approach, he says.

“I don’t think the way they handled it took into account the impact on the people that might be affected, particularly when the mandate could end people’s employment. I think it was pretty discompassionate.”

Kelly says the November 15 vaccine mandate added a lot of stress to school staff around the country who had medical conditions and were concerned about the vaccine.

The mandating decision was announced unexpectedly and the deadline “put a lot of pressure on a lot of people,” Kelly says.

He is also critical of the lack of support and advice for principals and staff dealing with the situation.

“It’s created extraordinarily complicated situations for principals and school boards.”

Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins’s office did not respond to claims accusing the government of lacking compassion.

“Ultimately, this is about keeping people and children safe,” a spokesperson for Hipkins says.

When Stuff asked about his staff’s vaccination status, Kelly said it was a sensitive subject for principals. Many felt they were unable to comment given the circumstances and the issue of privacy.

Another Southland school principal, Lynlee Smith of Fiordland College, was more open, however. She says all the College’s 46 teachers and support staff had received at least one Covid-19 jab before the mandate deadline.




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