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Omicron Australia 2022: NSW unveils ‘Covid-smart’ back-to-school plan with twice-weekly RAT testing

New South Wales has finally unveiled its plan that will allow children back into the classroom, with students and teachers getting two free rapid antigen tests every week.

The massive surveillance testing program is the linchpin of Dominic Perrottet’s “Covid-smart” back-to-school plan as the state registered more than 20,000 infections and a further 30 deaths on Saturday.

The prime minister’s long-awaited plan will also make face masks mandatory for teachers and high school students, but primary school children will not have to wear them.

Other measures include vaccine mandates for all teachers and staff as sports, music, meetings and even school camping trips are given the green light to continue when the kids return to class on Feb. 1.

The state government hopes to have delivered more than six million RATs to 3,000 public, private and religious schools across NSW by January 26 as the rest of Australia faces a supply shortage.

New South Wales has finally unveiled its plan that will allow children back into the classroom, with students and teachers getting two free rapid antigen tests every week.  (photo, students from Fairvale High School in Sydney)

New South Wales has finally unveiled its plan that will allow children back into the classroom, with students and teachers getting two free rapid antigen tests every week. (photo, students from Fairvale High School in Sydney)

The mass surveillance testing program is the hub of Dominic Perrottet's 'Covid-smart' back-to-school plan (Photo: Firbank Grammar student receives a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen test)

The mass surveillance testing program is the hub of Dominic Perrottet's 'Covid-smart' back-to-school plan (Photo: Firbank Grammar student receives a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen test)

The mass surveillance testing program is the hub of Dominic Perrottet’s ‘Covid-smart’ back-to-school plan (Photo: Firbank Grammar student receives a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen test)

NSW BACK TO SCHOOL PLAN

All students from Kindergarten to Year 12 are tested twice a week for Covid using free RAT kits distributed by their school before February 1.

Parents can arrange a time to collect home tests as soon as their child’s school contacts them.

Teachers and children at daycare centers are also offered RAT kits for testing twice a week.

Face masks are mandatory for all teachers and employees who must also be fully vaccinated.

High school students must wear face masks.

Primary school students are not allowed to wear face coverings.

Sports, music, meetings and even school camping trips are allowed to continue as planned.

Schools will be required to implement an enhanced cleaning regime.

Some schools will be equipped with improved ventilation systems.

For the past week, trucks have been on the road 24 hours a day so schools can prepare to hand out the home test kits to parents before the end of the school holidays.

The non-mandatory testing program runs for the first four weeks of the first term before the regimen is reviewed and redelivered.

Teachers and children at daycare centers are also offered RAT kits for testing twice a week.

Mr Perrotett said the plan will allow children to enjoy their school safely, “in a Covid-smart way”.

“Students learn best in school and this plan is designed to make that happen from the first day of school,” the prime minister said.

Parents can get their hands on their kids’ RAT kits before classes start, but there’s no need for kids to be tested before going back.

Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet (pictured) unveiled his much-anticipated back-to-school plan, which will also make face masks mandatory for teachers and high school students, but primary school children won't have to wear them.

Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet (pictured) unveiled his much-anticipated back-to-school plan, which will also make face masks mandatory for teachers and high school students, but primary school children won't have to wear them.

Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet (pictured) unveiled his much-anticipated back-to-school plan, which will also make face masks mandatory for teachers and high school students, but primary school children won’t have to wear them.

Schools will be contacting parents in the coming days about how to collect their free tests.

Craig Petersen, chairman of the NSW Council or Chair of the Council of Secondary Directors, said each school will come up with its own plan to hand out tests to parents with pick-up times likely to be circulated during this week.

‘I would be surprised if everyone follows the same model; it will have to be localized in the context of the school, so parents will have to pay attention to their school,” he said.

But parents have been warned that many schools don’t get their RATs until later in the week.

Families can choose on which days and times their child takes the Pap smear at home, without having to register the results.

There is also no penalty for parents who have not collected their RATs from the school.

The non-mandatory testing program runs for the first four weeks of the first term before the regimen is reviewed and re-supplied (pictured, a Covid RAT kit)

The non-mandatory testing program runs for the first four weeks of the first term before the regimen is reviewed and re-supplied (pictured, a Covid RAT kit)

The non-mandatory testing program runs for the first four weeks of the first term before the regimen is reviewed and re-supplied (pictured, a Covid RAT kit)

The absolute minimum standard required for RAT kits sold in Australia is 80 percent clinical sensitivity (shown, a RAT test in use)

The absolute minimum standard required for RAT kits sold in Australia is 80 percent clinical sensitivity (shown, a RAT test in use)

The absolute minimum standard required for RAT kits sold in Australia is 80 percent clinical sensitivity (shown, a RAT test in use)

Education Secretary Sarah Mitchell said the plan will bring children’s lives back to normal, but admitted there will be major challenges in the coming year.

“Activities that students love, such as music, school sports and gatherings, will continue with the same settings as they were at the end of last year,” she said.

“We are still not back to normal and the start of the year will have its challenges, but these settings are a smart and safe start to the year,” she said.

Other parts of the program include mandatory face masks and vaccinations for all teachers and other school staff.

A limited number of visitors will be allowed on the school grounds at any time, with only two parents per class, the new kindergarten orientation rule.

The NSW government is also installing thousands of air purifiers to improve ventilation in classrooms.

The NSW government is also installing thousands of air purifiers to improve ventilation in classrooms

The NSW government is also installing thousands of air purifiers to improve ventilation in classrooms

The NSW government is also installing thousands of air purifiers to improve ventilation in classrooms

But the chairman of the NSW Teachers’ Federation, Angelo Gavrielatos, said there are still significant risks to teachers and students during the ongoing Omicron outbreak and that “nowhere is safe.”

“We clearly remain concerned for the health and safety of our students and their families and for good reason,” he said. Daily Telegram.

How many other jobs require you to be in a workplace with literally hundreds of people, in some cases up to 2000, trapped in cramped, often poorly ventilated classrooms with up to 30 people?

“We will closely monitor the impact of the mitigation strategies with a view to reviewing and seeking urgent adjustments needed to ensure that our students and staff can provide as much protection as possible.”

WHAT ARE THE 15 RAT KITS APPROVED FOR USE IN AUSTRALIA?

VERY HIGH SENSITIVITY – 95% CLINICALLY SENSITIVE

All Test Sars-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test – (Nasal Swab) – China

Lyher Novel Coronavirus Antigen Test Kit (Nasal Swab) – China

OnSite Covid-19 Ag Self Test (Nasal Swab) – USA

Panbio Covid-19 antigen self-test (nasal swab) – Germany

V-Chek Covid-19 Antigen Test (Saliva) – China

HIGH SENSITIVITY – 90 PERCENT CLINICALLY SENSITIVE

All Test Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test (Oral Liquid) – China

Hough Covid-19 home test (nasal swab) – China

My Covid Test Antigen Rapid Test – (Oral Liquid) – China

Orawell Covid-19 Ag Rapid Test (Saliva) – China

RightSign Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test Cassette (Nasal Swab) – China

Test Sealabs Covid-19 Antigen Test Cassette (Nasal Swab) – China

ACCEPTABLE SENSITIVITY – 80 PERCENT CLINICALLY SENSITIVE

Roche Sars-CoV-2 Antigen Self-Test (Nasal Swab) – South Korea

InnoScreen Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test (Nasal Swab) – Australia

Ecotest Covid-19 Antigen Saliva Test Kit (Saliva) – China

CareStart Covid-19 Antigen Home Test (Nasal Swab) – USA

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