To those who stayed: A mother’s open letter to Aotearoa’s vaccinated teachers

OPINION:

This is a message to the teachers who got the vaccine, from the mother of a child who can’t yet get it.

Much has been said about the teachers who chose not to get vaccinated – despite millions of us all over the world having taken the vaccine, and showing overwhelming proof of its safety and high-level efficacy.

To you – the much larger percentage who chose to take it – thank you.

You will get to continue to teach our children maths, English, PE and whatnot, but you’ve already taught them the most important lesson of all, before even stepping foot in the classroom.

You’ve taught them what it’s like to be compassionate, to think of others instead of just ourselves. You’ve taught everyone what it is like to act with compassion and empathy, to be part of a community – truly part of a community – to care for those who can’t yet protect themselves.

So thank you for staying.

Thank you to those who didn’t hesitate to get the vaccine but, more importantly, thank you to those who hesitated but got it anyway. You put our children first – that’s all we can ever ask of the people who are helping us parents guide them through life.

Thank you for teaching our children to trust science.

Thank you for showing our children what it’s like to fulfil your civic duties and your moral duties to fellow humans. Thank you for doing everything in your power to protect them.

The silver lining of this whole thing – if there is any – is that we get to know something fundamental about those who are teaching our children: we get to know that these people, when faced with a choice, chose to protect them.

Last week, a poll revealed that the overwhelming majority of New Zealand teachers chose to be vaccinated and continue to teach our tamariki. A whole 49 out of 50, 98 per cent of teachers. Sure, 2 per cent in a country with a shortage of teachers is a significant number but 98 per cent also shows that, despite all the anti-vax noise, when it comes to the Covid vaccine, we are far from divided. Knowing this is a soothing balm to my worried mama’s heart.

I’ve heard a lot of comments in the past few days about how much attention has been given to the very minute minority of teachers who chose to quit instead of having the vaccine. While I understand the comments, I also now take comfort in knowing that the reason they’re the ones making the headlines is precisely because they’re the odd ones out. They’re the man biting the dog. They’re news and you’re not.

So thank you for staying.

As I prepare to send my daughter into the primary school system, after a few wonderful years of ECE, I am almost pleased I had the chance to see such overwhelming evidence thatAotearoa’s teachers are guided by science and that our kids are in good hands.

The future looks much brighter with people like you guiding it.

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