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Hawkesbury schools will not close if they have a positive COVID case – new term begins on time

Jan 23, 2022


Hawkesbury school pupils will return to classes when the new term begins at the end of this month and into early February and each will have to have a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) twice a week for at least the first 4 weeks.


Schools will not be closed if there is a COVID case in their school.


More than 6 million RATs will be distributed to schools by Tuesday night, ahead of students’ return on 1 February.


Schools will then be in touch with parents to organise the pick up of these tests.


Additionally, the NSW government will be providing RATs for staff in ‘early childhood services’ – so pre-school and daycare – to use twice a week. It doesn’t look like the RATs will be for the children but we’e checking that now, for clarity.


All staff and students will have to take a test before the first day back to school, and will then need to do twice-weekly surveillance tests for the first four weeks of term.


If teachers are absent due to COVID, the Education Minister said this morning the education department would call upon retired teachers, final year university students, departmental staff with teaching experience, and principals and vice principals to fill classroom teaching shortages.


Yesterday the Hawkesbury had 91 new recorded cases of COVID following on from 896 in the 4 days before that.


Sarah Mitchell, NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood, said this morning – Sunday – the plan is for students to do two rapid tests a week for the first four weeks of the term, and then reassess the situation, adding that “we have more supplies available if this is something we need to continue with and we can do that”.


If a student tests positive they will need to report the case to NSW Health via the Service NSW app, and they will need to let the school know.


“The most important thing is, we are minimising the disruption and not having school closures due to COVID anymore,” said the Minister.


“We are moving much more in line with what we are seeing in community settings. That is important and it is important for continuity of education and also important because we have done it in line with New South Wales Health and experts to make sure that we have COVID-safe schools.”


She also said the government was moving away from contact tracing and would not be closing schools if there was a COVID outbreak.


“If there is a positive case, the teacher or student does test positive to COVID, we want the rapid antigen tests where provided or there are PCR or other circumstances, they will need to let the school know, parents will know, you will be told as a parent that there is COVID in your school community,” said the Minister.


“You will know if COVID is in your child’s school, we will ask you to monitor the symptoms, and we will ask you to use the rapid antigen test kits that have been provided to you. This is a change from how we had the school settings last year. It really is about moving the school in line with a community setting, recognising that the schools have lots of action measures in place.”


Students will also have to wear masks indoors, as will High School staff.


“We will recommend that our primary school students wear masks as well [as high school students],” said the Minister.


“We have distributed more than 8 million surgical masks to schools for this purpose.”


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