Back-to-School Plan: "We're Committed" Says the NSW Government - Hope 103.2

Back-to-School Plan: “We’re Committed” Says the NSW Government

The NSW Premier unveiled the Government’s pathway to ongoing classroom learning, with hope for minimum disruption.

By Michael CrooksFriday 28 Jan 2022EducationReading Time: 3 minutes

School is coming back in NSW, and there will be tests. COVID tests, that is.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said that students returning safely to the classroom was “vital” after two years of disruption to their education.

Due to the pandemic, some young students have spent more than a quarter of their schooling life at home.

The Government is implementing stringent “COVID-smart” measures to make sure all children are protected in their return to the classroom.

“We’re committed to bringing students back safely,” Mr Perrottet said.

“New COVID-smart measures will help make this happen, including surveillance testing both students and staff twice weekly with RATs.”

RATs at home

The NSW Government said that all students should take a rapid antigen test (RAT), and get a negative result, before attending school in term one.

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Staff are also required to take the test.

RATs will be provided to all staff and students through their schools. Schools will inform parents on how these kits can be collected.

RATs will be provided to all staff and students through their schools. Schools will inform parents on how these kits can be collected.

Then, in the first four weeks of school, students and staff are asked to take a RAT twice a week “on the morning before attending school”.

“What is most important about this approach is that it allows students to enjoy all aspects of their schooling in a safe and sensible way,” Premier Perrottet said.

“The government is distributing more than 12 million RATs to more than 3150 government and non-government schools, and early childhood centres, to assist with surveillance testing of staff and students.”

If unwell, stay at home

The NSW Government advises that if a child is unwell – “even with mild symptoms” – they must be kept at home and be tested by either PCR (throat and nasal swab) or RAT.

If a test is negative but symptoms remain, another RAT or PCR test should be taken in 24 hours.

A child may only return to school if another diagnosis, such as hay fever, explains the symptoms.

Other measures

Other COVID-smart measures to be implemented at schools include mandatory mask wearing for all staff and high school students. Masks are “encouraged” for primary school kids.

No vented masks or cloth masks should be worn, the government said. Surgical masks will be available at schools.

No vented masks or cloth masks should be worn, the government said. Surgical masks will be available at schools.

There will also be “COVID-safe settings” arranged for music and sport activities, and any excursions undertaken.

Further, there will be limited visitors to schools, and air purifiers will be made available if needed.

Positive cases

In the event of a positive case in a class (or in another grouping, such as a music class), children with no symptoms can continue to attend school, the NSW Government said. In such cases, the close contacts should take a RAT.

“We need to keep our students, teachers and families safe and also provide stability,” Catholic Schools NSW chief executive officer Dallas McInerney said.

“We know that our kids learn best when they’re in the classroom with their teacher and peers.”

Home-schooling

The Government said that schools will do “everything they can” to maintain face-to-face learning including using more casual staff.

But if face-to-face learning is not possible, “learning from home options will be supported for short periods”.

Vaccination

The NSW Government “strongly encourages” all students and their families to get vaccinated. Children aged 5-11 can now get vaccinated.

“In the 12- to 15-year-old age group, more than 80 per cent of children have had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine,” a NSW Government statement read.

“And 78 per cent are double-dosed. In the 5- to 11-year-old age group, more than 24 per cent of children have had their first dose.”

Anxiety

If a child is anxious about returning to school, including for reasons involving the pandemic, child therapy service Youthrive suggests preparing the child early.

“Setting a weekday routine now will help to ensure kids are getting into the right mindset in preparation to go back to school and spend hours in a classroom concentrating,” Amy Turner, Youthrive’s chief operating officer, said.

“We’re encouraging parents and carers to make sure their child is getting enough sleep each night and that they’re eating plenty of nutritious food as they get ready for the school year.”

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