Unvaccinated south-west teachers, staff and childcare workers who were terminated after refusing to have COVID-19 jabs can return to education jobs after the vaccine mandate was dumped.
As of midnight Friday the mandate, which required education staff to be triple vaccinated or have an exemption, ends in mainstream schools but will continue in specialist school settings.
While one south-west teacher was "thrilled", she said for some it didn't mean they could return to their old jobs immediately.
Schools also hope the move could help ease the critical staff shortages.
Warrnambool's King's College lost staff due to the mandates and employed short-term staff to fill the gaps.
"We are looking forward to welcoming back staff who are on leave if they would like to come back," principal Allister Rouse said.
Replacement staff were employed on short-term contracts until the end of the year, he said.
"In the government system if you didn't meet the mandate you finished up and you had to leave basically," Mr Rouse said.
"Whereas we've had the flexibility to offer people extended leave with the view of potentially an easing or change and they could come back.
"I was always hopeful there would be a change or a way of welcoming these people back."
Mr Rouse said one staff member would return to the college at the start of term three and at least one staff member had indicated they would return next year.
Brauer College principal Jane Boyle said while she couldn't reveal staff vaccination numbers the change would have very little impact.
A double-vaccinated south-west teacher who was unable to work because she didn't get the booster said teachers were told they could either use up entitlements or go on leave without pay but had to sign contracts that ran to the end of the year.
"We were caught between a rock and a hard place," she said.
"The mandates have lifted but we can't return to our jobs until next year. Not a win in my books."
Another double-vaccinated teacher that was prevented from working in education due to the booster mandate said she was thrilled to be allowed back.
"I've had to find other unskilled work and other jobs where I can," she said.
"Things aren't going to return to normal just because this has lifted. It's going to take some time."
She said she got double vaccinated because she had a mortgage and bills to pay.
She said not getting the booster was a hard decision to make knowing how it affected her colleagues and students. "It's very disruptive," she said.
About 350 unvaccinated government school staff were terminated and another 280 staff failed to get a third jab but the numbers didn't include Catholic or independent schools.
Victorian Principals Association president Andrew Dalgleish said having to implement the government mandate had caused "some angst" among terminated teachers.
Mr Dalgleish said many of the roles had already been filled, with staff forced to reapply for new positions. "If they're successful they'll be able to recommence teaching as soon as they're appointed," he said.
Mr Dalgleish said some parents had raised concerns about unvaccinated teachers teaching immunocompromised children.
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