ACT school children will resume face to face learning across Canberra schools as planned with new students starting on 31 January and returning students on 1 February.
“With the arrival of the Omicron variant, the ACT Government has adjusted our response having listened to health experts, engaged with teachers, parents and other education stakeholders. As a result, we have revised our health guidelines, which have been signed off by the Chief Health Officer. We thank Canberra families for their patience while this work has taken place,” said Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
“In the 10 days since our 5-11 year old vaccination program commenced, we have seen almost half of this cohort receive their first dose. Current bookings indicate that by the time Term 1 begins, almost 90% of this cohort will have had one dose.
“The ACT Government has also prioritised boosters for ACT teachers, education staff and early childhood education and care workers, to add another layer of protection before the return to school.
“The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) acknowledges that while remaining vigilant and putting risk mitigation strategies in place, that schools are an essential service and should open and remain open wherever possible.
“We also know that there are significant benefits from face to face learning for our children and young people. In addition, children and young people are far less likely to develop severe illness or complications from COVID-19.
“Therefore, we are supporting the overall health and wellbeing of children by maximising the opportunity for face to face learning, as well as ensuring our schools are prepared with the appropriate tools and guidance to manage COVID with as little disruption as possible.”
“The ACT has worked effectively with NSW and Victoria in the National Cabinet on the National Principles for Managing COVID-19 in Schools and Early Childhood Education and Care, on our term one operational plans and supply of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs).”
A lot of work has been undertaken over an extended period of time since last year to prepare and refine plans for the return of children to school said Education Minister Yvette Berry.
“Comprehensive prevention, risk mitigation and response strategies have been developed and refined to enable our schools to both avoid and manage cases as they arise and where possible avoid closures. Schools will be contacting their school communities directly with more information about how the health guidelines will be applied in each school setting.
“We acknowledge that with the current level of community transmission in the ACT and across the country, we will see COVID-19 cases in our schools and that this can make people feel anxious, especially if your child is at higher risk. If at any stage you are concerned about your child attending face to face learning please seek advice from your health provider, visit the relevant ACT Government websites for more information and speak to your school if you have further queries about your individual circumstances.
“With COVID-19 now being a day to day part of life, the ACT remains in a strong position due to its high vaccination coverage and positive community response to both the booster and 5-11 year old vaccination programs.
“It is still very important that positive COVID Safe behaviours, such as staying home if unwell, hand and respiratory hygiene and face masks for those who can wear them, remain at the forefront of the way we live our lives for a while longer.”
For more information about the management of COVID in a school environment, visithttps://www.education.act.gov.au/public-school-life/covid-school-arrangements
Further information about the ACT Government’s COVID-19 response can also be found at https://www.covid19.act.gov.au/