Kerry Chant has revealed the Omicron wave is slowing in NSW and eased concerns of parents who are ‘anxious’ about sending their kids to school.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, the chief health officer said case numbers appeared to be stabilising as the state recorded 15,091 new infections and 24 deaths.
‘It is pleasing that when we look at a range of measures, our assessment indicates that the spread of coronavirus is slowing, our situation is stabilising,’ she said.
‘While we expect to see an uptick in transmissions associated with schools going back, this could be mitigated by the actions of you as individuals.
‘Getting those boosters will help us. They will also help us have some effect on transmission by preventing you acquiring infection and passing it on.’
Dr Chant warned testing numbers were lower on the weekend and that ‘caution’ should be taken when examining the latest daily figure.
The high number of cases has raised concerns among parents as they prepare to send their children back to the classroom from February 1.
An extra two million rapid antigen COVID-19 will be delivered to NSW schools before lessons resume for 2022 with the government promising classrooms will stay open even if students test positive
President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia Trent Twomey says there will be enough tests over the course of the program, which begins on Monday, but supply is constrained at the moment
Premier Dominic Perrottet eased concerns saying plenty of protective measures would be in place to keep children safe from the virus.
‘I know many parents across the sate are anxious about the return to school,’ he said.
‘We have put everything in place to ensure that we can have our schools open in a safe way.’
The premier stood by his decisions to only send students home if they have tested positive, keep classrooms open and shift focus away from contact tracing.
‘This is the right approach for the circumstances that we are in today,’ he said.
‘We know in the main that Omicron is less severe, we have seen that, it is more transmissible but less severe.
We have a highly vaccinated population, and yes, as a parent as well I know that many parents across the state are anxious about sending it back to school, many teachers are anxious.’
An extra two million rapid antigen Covid-19 will be delivered to NSW schools before lessons resume for 2022 – adding to the five million that have already been distributed.
Two test kits per week will be issued to pupils and staff across 3000 primary and secondary schools throughout February. Early education and childcare centres are also included in the scheme.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said schools won’t be closed even when there’s a positive case.
‘We’ve really shifted from that approach,’ she told Seven’s Sunrise program on Monday.
Instead parents will be notified if there’s a positive case in their child’s year and any child who tests positive will be required to isolate at home.
‘We’ll ask you to monitor for symptoms and … use those rapid antigen tests just to check that your child continues to test negative,’ Ms Mitchell said.
The government has again defended their rollout of the concessional scheme, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg saying every country is suffering from supply chain issues with regards to the tests
As part of NSW’s long awaited back-to-school plan, teachers and pupils will get two of the tests per week when they return to classrooms
It’s anticipated that cases will rise in the community after children return to school.
‘There may well be a spike, but the alternative is to keep schools closed and we don’t want to do that,’ she said.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said it is the right decision for students to return to face-to-face learning amid the Omicron wave.
‘I know many parents are anxious but ultimately we know kids do better in the classroom,’ he told reporters on Sunday.
‘It is what is best for mental health and social outcomes.’
Four million RAT kits have already been issued to school communities and another two million are expected to land by Tuesday evening, ahead of the February 1 term start.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant is urging parents not to send kids if they have symptoms, even if they test negative.
About 20,000 air purifiers will be issued to schools and principals provided with specific advice on how to maximise natural ventilation.
Masks remain mandatory for high school teachers and students and are recommended for pupils in Year 3 and above.
Premier Dominic Perrottet eased concerns saying plenty of protective measures would be in place to keep children safe from the virus
Visitors to schools will be limited and COVID-safe plans implemented for excursions.
There are also extensive contingency plans to cover staff absences from a pool of 1000 student and retired teachers as well as hundreds of trained departmental officers and school administrators.
The NSW Teachers Federation said it will closely monitor the effectiveness of the measures.
‘Omicron has taught us that nowhere is safe,’ president Angelo Gavrielatos said on Sunday.
The opposition said the return to school plan left little time for principals, teachers and parents to get ready for the start of term.
Education spokeswoman Prue Car asked what happens once the current supply of rapid antigen kits is exhausted.
‘It’s not like Omicron is really going anywhere, anytime soon,’ she said.