Children could be set to go back to school in New South Wales next week – but only under strict new rules and regulations.
The NSW State Government is still hesitating on pulling the trigger to greenlight a return to classrooms after see-sawing Covid case numbers more than doubled overnight from 16 on Sunday to 35 on Monday.
However health chiefs have drawn up a set of new classroom protocols to make it happen as soon as possible.
Under the back to school blueprints, morning assemblies and inter-school sports are set to be banned, with strict controls over parental school gate pick-ups and drop-offs.
Children could be set to go back to school in New South Wales next week – but only under strict new rules and regulations. Pupils in Melbourne are seen here being taught by a masked teacher
After hours school events looks set to be postponed while the Covid danger persists, and children from different ages will be segregated to try to minimise infection.
Schools in country New South Wales will also bring in in QR codes and hand sanitiser in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
At the daily morning Covid update press conference, the NSW government refused to commit to schools going back as scheduled on Tuesday at this stage.
‘We’re monitoring the situation regularly,’ said chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant.
‘We’ll provide regular updates to government.
‘The government is considering and keeping a close eye on how the situation evolves – that’s for another time. Those decisions are yet to be made.’
The NSW State Government is still hesitating on pulling the trigger to greenlight a return to classrooms after see-sawing Covid case numbers more than doubled overnight
But she added: ‘As a general sense, some of the things that we have looked at are things that we’ve had in place earlier.
‘We try to minimise parents coming to drop off at schools, we try to prevent parent functions and gatherings on schools.
‘We try to minimise mixing across school grades so that if you’ve got one case, you don’t infect a broader group.
‘All of those strategies that have kept us in good stead, and I think they’re the sort of things that would be informing policy thinking.’
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant has also flagged children getting vaccinated (pictured) from next year, as well as adults
South Coogee School was hit by a cluster with four cases reported during the current outbreak which resulted in hundreds of schoolchildren in isolation during the current holiday.
Rose Bay Secondary College and Waverley’s St Charles Catholic Primary School, both in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, have also each had a pupil test positive.
Under the new NSW proposals, home learning has apparently been ruled out as an option unless an area goes into lockdown.
‘Pandemics are unpredictable, and we must prepare for all scenarios,’ NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘At this stage we are planning for students to be back at school on day one of Term 3.
‘NSW Health and the Department of Education are currently working on what measures will need to be in place to ensure this can happen.’
On Sunday, NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant also flagged children getting vaccinated from next year, as well as adults.
‘I would be expecting that in 2022 we would be looking at rolling out vaccines for schoolchildren,’ she said.
But on Monday NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian dodged questions about teachers being vaccinated as a priority under the back to school plan.
Under the back to school blueprints, morning assemblies and inter-school sports are set to be banned, with strict controls over parental schoolgate pick-ups and drop-offs
‘A number of teachers have already been vaccinated,’ she said. ‘But all of us, any one of us, in and around the community has potential to spread the virus.
‘We have to be very clear about that – there is high risk amongst a number of categories of people.’
She added: ‘As soon as we get those extra doses of course, we’ll continue to make sure that we provide the vaccine.
‘But it’s really important to note that there are many, many people who would like to get the vaccine that currently don’t have access to it.
‘New South Wales Government has expressed its frustration about the process but what we have to do is work with what we have and make sure we’re doing our best.’
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