NT Govt’s back to school COVID plan revealed: Here’s what you need to know

by | Jan 21, 2022 | COVID-19, News | 0 comments

Government school staff will “have access to” three rapid antigen tests a week, all government school air-conditioning systems will undergo audits and students from Year 3 will be “strongly encouraged” to wear masks, as part of the NT Government’s back to school plan amid rising daily COVID-19 cases across the NT.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced the plan this afternoon, that he says will ensure keeping Territory kids and school staff safe as the new school year starts.

The start of the school year in the first week of February coincides with the chief health officer’s forecast for the current COVID-19 wave to hit its peak.

“We can’t remove the risks from our schools,” Mr Gunner said. “But as with every decision we have made throughout the pandemic, this is about reducing the risk – not removing it all together.

“We need to manage COVID, and get on with it. And this means keeping as many students in classrooms and learning as safely as we can.”

The new plan will see all government school staff given “access to three rapid antigen tests a week as required”. Remote staff will be required to take three tests in the first week of the arrival in a community, the government said.

The back to school plan will also include the air-conditioning audits conducted to ensure they meet or exceed fresh air intake and circulation standards, installing 500 air purifiers in schools without central air-conditioning systems “especially in remote areas”, “strongly encouraging” students from Year 3 and up to wear masks and practising enhanced health and cleaning measures including the use of hand sanitiser.

The government said when a positive case at a school is discovered, the positive person will be required to stay home for seven days. Parents will be notified of every positive case at their child’s school and parents will also be notified if their child is considered a close contact.

Those “close contacts” in primary school can continue going to school provided they do not have symptoms and will not require testing.

Close contact children in middle and senior school can also continue to attend school provided they have no symptoms, but must take a daily RAT before attending school for a week.

The government said the RAT kits would be provided to the students.

Any child displaying symptoms must stay at home.

“All schools are equipped with home learning packs and online learning options for students who test positive, show COVID symptoms, or if their parents or carer makes the choice to keep them at home,” the government said in a statement.

The plan was revealed on the same day the government reported another 432 new cases of COVID-19 in the NT to 8pm on January 20. It brings the total number of active cases to roughly 3,570, the government said.

Sixty-two cases are in hospital, with two in the ICU and five patients requiring oxygen.

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