It is welcome to see data suggesting that the COVID Omicron wave may be peaking, however it is too early to make any conclusions.
The government has released its return to school plan which requires all staff and students to return negative rapid antigen test (RAT) results before returning to class, followed by two negative RATs each week for the first four weeks of term. RATs will be distributed by schools and parents will be notified when and how to pick them up and use them. All school staff must be double vaccinated with boosters encouraged and students will also be encouraged to get vaccinated. All staff and high school students will need to wear masks and primary school students will be encouraged to wear them. The government says it has assessed ventilation in each classroom and is providing air purifiers where it is not adequate.
A back-up workforce has been established however it is unclear how successful it will be to prevent disruption in a system already affected by teacher shortages and over reliance on casual and relief staff. In Parliament, I called for conditions to help keep teachers in the workforce > HERE. The Conversation has a good explanation of the teacher situation > HERE.
Children aged 5 to 11 are eligible to be vaccinated with Pfizer and I encourage parents to get information about safety from a trusted source. See the fact sheet > HERE.
I know parents have mixed feelings about their children returning to school. COVID has caused significant disruption to education and parents’ ability to work and perform other duties but health and safety are paramount. I will continue to communicate concerns from school communities to the government and work to keep children safe.
COVID-19 booster shots are proving to significantly reduce infection and severe illness from the Omicron variant. I urge you to get a vaccine booster as soon as you are eligible –now reduced to three months after your second shot > HERE. There are numerous vaccine locations, including NSW Health clinics, most pharmacists and GPs > HERE.