Half of the teachers at some Tauranga and Western Bay schools don't intend to get vaccinated, a principals' representative says, as a jab mandate deadline nears.
And there are fears some schools "may not be able to run" if many education staff do not get vaccinated.
Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association president Suzanne Billington said she surveyed schools in the region about staff vaccination rates.
"There are some schools where 50 per cent of them are not intending to do it," she said.
"The impact is that you may not be able to run your school the next day."
The association represents more than 60 schools from Waihi to Whakatāne.
The teacher vaccine mandate requires anyone who is in contact with children in an educational setting to have had their first dose by November 15 and be fully vaccinated by January 1.
Billington said this was a concern for schools with "a large cohort of staff" who did not want to be vaccinated.
The impact of the mandate would be "more difficult" for some schools than others, she said.
"Some schools it may hardly affect because of the response of staff, however, some schools could have quite large effects."
Billington, who is the Tauriko School principal, said "pretty much" 100 per cent of her staff were vaccinated and some other schools had a similar rate.
There were "a lot of schools" in the 85 to 95 per cent mark, she said.
Those who did not wish to get vaccinated were having conversations about this and would need to work through their decision in relation to the employment law process, she said.
Depending on final numbers once the deadline passed, boards and principals would then need to make decisions around the learning, health and safety of students, she said.
Otumoetai College principal Russell Gordon said his staff had been asked to provide their vaccine status by next Tuesday.
He said he could not give an indicative figure of how many staff were vaccinated until then.
"We by law have to enforce this mandate. People are free to choose whether or not they wish to comply but as a school, we don't have the luxury of that choice."
Gordon said he had "never faced anything like this" in his 10 years as a principal.
"To meet with staff who, for a variety of reasons, are maybe not sure about getting vaccinated or it's their choice not to be vaccinated, it leaves us kind of in a situation where really post- November 15 it would appear that all we can do from that point on is move into an employment process."
Gordon said he "fully supported" the mandate as it was the school's duty to keep children as safe as possible.
Te Akau ki Pāpāmoa School principal Bruce Jepsen said his school was "very close to 100 per cent" for staff who had received at least one dose.
The school had about 80 to 100 staff, he said.
A parent of an 11-year-old student at Bethlehem College also agreed with the mandate for education workers and said he could "hardly wait" until the Government made a vaccine available for 5 to 12-year-olds.
Rob Thode said it was "a real concern" that his child could not yet get vaccinated, and feared school children under 12 could become a "source" of Covid, "which I don't think is fair or just for them".
"At some point [Covid will] go through every school ... I think we should be protecting our kids as soon as possible."
On the teacher vaccine mandate, Thode said: "If that's their beliefs then you've got to respect that but I'm glad for the mandate that means that they won't be able to teach.
"We are all in this together and we do need to protect each other."
Bethlehem College principal Larne Edmeades said the school was consulting staff to understand the "potential impact" of the mandate.
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said international research showed transmission between children, particularly in education settings, was "very low".
"Hospitalisation of children is much lower in communities with higher vaccination rates because they are less likely to be exposed to the disease."
The primary spread of Covid tended to be within households, mainly driven by unvaccinated adults. The vaccine roll-out had aimed to prioritise vulnerable sections of the community.
"We know people want to protect their family members – young and old."
The ministry had clinical and technical experts paying "close attention" to the international evidence on vaccinations for 5 to 11-year-olds.
Medsafe expected to receive an application from Pfizer for that age group early this month, the spokesperson said.
If Medsafe approved this, advice would be sought from the Covid-19 vaccine technical advisory group, which would then make a recommendation to Cabinet for a decision.
If a decision was made to offer vaccines to this age group, these would be offered in 2022.
RNZ reported yesterday that, asked about teachers who may be about to lose their jobs due to the mandate, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: "We have not taken lightly the decision for some areas to require vaccination. It's taken a lot of discussion and careful thought and we have focused in on those groups that we consider high risk."
Associate Minister of Education and Tauranga-based Labour list MP Jan Tinetti told the Bay of Plenty Times vaccinating educators was the "best defence" to keep kids safe.
"As a former educator, I think that keeping our young people safe would be number one for me."
Tinetti said the Ministry of Education would send further guidance in the next few days to support schools facing resignations due to the mandate.
NZEI Te Riu Roa president Liam Rutherford said there was "a lot of uncertainty" about how many unvaccinated educators would leave the profession.
The union was working closely with the Ministry of Education regarding any staffing issues that could arise as a result, he said.
"The majority of our members agree with the mandate and our support of it.
"We will be actively working with them, schools, early childhood centres' employers, and the Government to be certain the vaccine mandate is implemented fairly and safely."
Post Primary Teachers' Association Te Wehengarua president Melanie Webber said field officers were providing support to unvaccinated members.
This included exploring available options and working with school management to ensure those teachers got "the most satisfactory outcomes possible", Webber said.
The Ministry of Education was asked what plans were in place if schools could not open as a result of staff leaving.
Education workforce leader Anna Welanyk said the ministry was working with schools that needed help to meet staffing needs on a case-by-case basis.
Welanyk said school leaders, education unions and principals' groups were supporting education workers by providing information about the benefits and importance of getting vaccinated, with information available from the Ministry of Health and health providers.
The Ministry of Education did not hold vaccination status information.
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said employers were responsible for keeping records on the vaccination status of their workers under the new mandatory Health Order.