Teachers' union concerned over vaccination-focused educator group

A coronavirus vaccine in progress at East Tallinn Central Hospital (ITKH).
A coronavirus vaccine in progress at East Tallinn Central Hospital (ITKH). Source: Raigo Pajula/ITK

The main teachers' union in Estonia has expressed concern over a newly-formed group which has questioned the requirement for the vaccination of school staff coming into the new school year. The new organization's name, in particular, is misleading, the union says.

The Estonian Educational Personnel Union (EHL), the main teaching union in Estonia, stated on its website that: "In the past days, a non-governmental organization with a misleading name and objective has appeared, called the Haridusvaldkonna Esinduskoda."

"This organization is not a teachers' union. It is also in no way related to the EHL or its views on the COVID-19 vaccination. The trade union which represents Estonian educators is the EHL," the statement continues.

The statement goes on to say that many students and parents are also concerned about the organization's claim that vaccinations and vaccination certification requirements discriminate against teachers and school staff.

The statement also says that: It is common knowledge that vaccination helps to keep people healthier, and educational institutions functioning."

The EHL has 6,500 members, plus 30 associated teacher representative groups, totaling over 10,000 educators, the organization says on its website.

As reported by ERR News, non-governmental organization (NGO) Haridusvaldkonna Esinduskoda (Eng: "Chamber of educators"), emerged following an education ministry call for unvaccinated teachers to be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis, with the target of 90 percent vaccine coverage of teachers by November.

The NGO says it stands up for educators' rights and employment law issues, and currently has about 180 members.

An Haridusvaldkonna Esinduskoda spokesperson had denied that the organization was an anti-vaxxer group, adding that its aim was to ensure safety and health and contain the virus, without infringing rights – which it said the education ministry call for vaccination of teachers could indirectly do.

The EHL says in its statement that in-school education is the most effective study scenario, based on the experience of recent years, adding that around 70 percent of teachers have been vaccinated and that as a whole the teaching profession trusts the medical profession.

Testing for unvaccinated teachers will be free-of-charge to year-end, the EHL says.

The EHL is an independent, voluntary trade union organization, whose activity is based on democracy, sovereignty and independent decision-making, it says on its website.

The new school year starts on September 1. Schools and other educational establishments are returning to contact learning rather than remote learning as happened through much of term-time following the arrival of the coronavirus in Estonia in March 2020.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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