COVID Safety in Schools Plan released

Peter Gutwein,Premier

There is no doubt that the best place for our children to be when school returns is in school, which is supported by public health advice that it is safe to go back to school.

As part of our transition to live with COVID-19, the Tasmanian Government’s COVID Safety in Schools Plan will ensure our schools are prepared and safe ahead of the return to school on February 9.

It is completely understandable that parents may be feeling anxious ahead of school’s return, but our Plan will ensure that schools can open as planned and that students, parents, and teachers have as much continuity and consistency as possible as we work through this period.

Importantly, the Plan includes a number of measures to ensure COVID-Safety in our schools, in line with public health advice.

These measures will initially be in place for the first five weeks of Term 1, with any initial adjustments to be made towards the end of this period.

Importantly, continuity of learning will be prioritised. Students in schools, early learning centres and child care settings will not be defined as close contacts unless there are five or more cases in a single classroom within a seven day period.

If a positive case is detected, schools will notify parents and carers that a case has been detected in the classroom, and to monitor for symptoms.

All students should be at school unless they are unwell or have symptoms of COVID, or have medical advice that they shouldn’t attend.

Students with a disability, or who are medically vulnerable, will continue to be supported on an individual basis, in line with each student’s medical action plan. Schools will reach out to parents or carers prior to school returning to discuss their child’s individual plan prior to the return to school.

While vaccinations for children are not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged, and there are bookings available for every child between 5-11 years old to receive their first dose before school returns.

Specific measures in our plan include:

For educators and schools:

  • Access to 1.6 million masks and 1.5 million Rapid Antigen Tests, with supply to be replaced as required;
  • Each school will be provided Rapid Antigen Tests and masks for teachers to use, and masks must be worn when teaching indoors. This will also apply to Early Learning and Child Care Centre staff;
  • Windows are being adjusted for improved ventilation, and 4500 air purifiers will be supplied to classrooms and learning areas where required before the start of the school year;
  • Additional school cleaning will be undertaken, in line with public health advice;
  • Outdoor learning spaces to be used where practical, and breaks to be staggered where required to reduce the density of children in play areas; and
  • If teachers or any staff are required to quarantine, they will continue to be paid under COVID leave arrangements.

For children and students:

  • Parents will receive a Back to School COVID Care Package, with detailed information and two Rapid Antigen Tests, per child, to have for use if your child becomes symptomatic and requires a test;
  • Schools will also be provided with a further two tests for every student per week to take home to test if required due to being symptomatic;
  • Virtual learning will be available for students required to isolate;
  • Masks are only to be worn indoors for students in secondary school, with all schools to have a supply of masks if the student does not have their own; and
  • Masks are not required for primary school students or for children in early learning or child care settings. However, primary school students can choose to wear a mask and schools will have a supply to provide if required.

Additionally, should a parent be required to isolate or quarantine with their children, financial assistance is available.

You can receive up to $750 from Services Australia or the State Government pandemic isolation grant of $750.

I know that parents might be feeling anxious, which is perfectly understandable, but the message is clear – the best place for our children to be when school returns is in school, and our schools are prepared and safe.

We will continue to keep Tasmanians informed at every step as we work through this transition phase and learn to live with COVID-19

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