The school principal who threatened to shut down an independent Catholic college due to Western Australia’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate now says he will pay unvaccinated teachers to stay home.
It was revealed last week that Adam Zydek, the principal and founder of Divine Mercy College in Yangebup, had told staff he would rather close it down than comply with a requirement to be jabbed before the first term of next year.
But in a letter to parents on Monday, Mr Zydek said the school was not “anti-vax” and would not shut down, but added that he remained opposed to the vaccine.
“The college’s view is it would rather close than compel a person to accept a Covid-19 vaccine against their will,” he wrote.
Mr Zydek said a different course would be taken to “insulate our vaccine-hesitant staff” from the “heavy-handedness” of Premier Mark McGowan, who last week said it was “a bit bizarre” to threaten to close the school.
“Our approach will be to financially support those teachers who chose not to be vaccinated, so that they can return to us when the foreshadowed public health direction ceases to operate,” Mr Zydek said.
“If, 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 contract only so that they do not displace our unvaccinated staff.”
Mr Zydek said the college’s actions were “calculated to shield its students and staff from the Premier’s oppressive dictates”.
“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,” he said.
Mr McGowan encouraged the school staff to adhere to the government rules and get vaccinated.
“If I was a parent there I wouldn’t be too happy about paying staff to stay home just because they don’t want to listen to medical science,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Education Minister Sue Ellery last week sought advice on whether Mr Zydek should be taken off the Teachers Registration Board of WA.
Mr McGowan also revealed last week the state government had taken some steps to intervene.
“We’ve made an appeal to the school board to make sure the principal does the right thing,” Mr McGowan told reporters on Friday.
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe last week said he was “deeply disappointed” with Mr Zydek’s position.
He noted that while the school offered an education “in the Catholic tradition”, it was independent and therefore “completely separate” from Catholic Education WA.
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( Information from news.com.au was used in this report. To Read More, click here )